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BAY St. 

1 Camp on the beach 6 Fort 5t 

^Belle's first anchorage If Le Boucan 

d Indian village BRiyiere <mxGmne;s 

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THE FA;f4iL 1!;ER 



"Car <Tun fleuve infini tu cherches I'origine." 




first printing 


















































North America, by Michael Lok, 1582 ...... 4 

New France According to Champlain, 1612 .- . . 16 

The St. Lawrence River and the Lakes ..... 16 

New France, by Sanson d' Abbeville, 1656 .... 34 

Lake Ontario from a Copy of Galinee's Map, 1670 . . 48 

Map Drawn by Joliet for Frontenac to Send to France, 1674 62 

Father Marquette's Map 78 

The Gulf Region, from Sanson's Map of North America, 

1669 180 

Sections of Franquelin's Map of La Salle's Voyages, 1684 . 184 

Map Appearing in Hennepin's "Description of Louisiana," 

1683 190 

The Course of the Mississippi as Mapped by Franquelin, 

1688 198 

Rivers of the West According to Joutel, 1713 . . . 260 





THE route to Cathay haunted men's dreams for nearly two 
hundred years. It was the pot of gold which every ex- 
plorer, from Columbus on, must promise to find for his 
royal patron at the foot of the western rainbow. One after 
another they loaded their caravels and sailed out over the 
Atlantic to look for it. The land barrier which bulked 
athwart the path of each in turn was a mighty mystery. Its 
imagined size and shape shifted and changed on the maps 
of the time like a sandbar at the mouth of some capricious 

Columbus began by coercing his followers into swearing 
that Cuba was a peninsula of Asia. But this seems to have 
been chiefly for the reassurance of possibly unreasonable 
monarchs. He himself appears to have believed that he 
must go a little farther yet to arrive at Cathay. From the 
rush of waters out of the mouth of the Amazon he judged 
the southward land obstruction to be of continental extent. 
But northward he visioned hopefully only a watery archi- 
pelago between himself and the China Sea. And he died 
believing that on the very next voyage he could have 
threaded his way through it. 

There were not wanting map-makers to share and per- 
petuate this pleasant archipelago delusion. Coppo sprin- 
kled islands thick as seed corn up and down the ocean he 
pictured opening out beyond the Indies of Columbus. The 
clustered islands on the maps gave place in time to a long 



north-and-south coast-line sufficiently accurate to be quite 
recognizable now. But still no one could guess what lay 
behind those shores. And men sought the western way to 
Cathay as confidently as ever. 

South America was soon conceded to be, as Columbus 
had surmised, a continent of no mean proportions. Ma- 
gellan proved it was a long way down around the Horn 
as roundabout as the old way around Good Hope. But 
Balboa discovered that the obstructing land narrowed to 
isthmus width at Panama. Might it not, the hopeful rea- 
soned, narrow again somewhere farther northward? Ver- 
razano, "going on the discovery of Cathay," a contempo- 
rary wrote, explored the shoreline from Nova Scotia to 
Florida. He found no northern Amazon churning the At- 
lantic, and he deduced a North America of inconsider- 
able east-to-west dimension with whatever westward-flowing 
rivers there might be, emptying into a vast imagined sea. 
On his return, the map-makers sketched the seaboard with 
new accuracy and over behind it drew in, each with his own 
particular flourish, the Sea of Verrazano. One showed a 
continent attenuated to the desired isthmus proportion near 
the present Carolinas- and cut through, at the south some- 
where in the region of Yucatan, by a most convenient strait 
to tempt explorers out into the Sea of Verrazano and on 
to Cathay. 

Caspar de Corte Real sailed from the Azores to New- 
foundland, and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence believed he 
had found the mouth of a strait connecting with western 
seas h e named it, in fact, the Strait of Anian. In 1535 
Cartier brought ships from St. Malo into that Gulf of St. 
Lawrence, and there took to boats to push upstream, strong 
in the hope that here was the passage all men were looking 
for. The season was late it was already September and 


Cartier was not able to follow the course of his seductive 
strait or river so far as lie should have liked. At the 
island where he was forced to turn tack, Indians who enter- 
tained him led him to the top of a very commanding hill 
he named it Mont Royale. But he did not there look over,, 
like Balboa, upon a wide expanse of water opening toward 
China. All he saw was the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa 
going on and on and losing themselves in the distance. But 
then, of course, either one might lead to China. He hoped 
to solve the riddle on his next voyage. 

The- Spaniards meantime were teasing the imaginations 
of men with tales of oriental splendor in Peru and Mexico. 
And a certain Hernando de Soto seeking gold and glamour 
landed on the Florida coast and went plunging westward 
through the wilderness. He knew that a river, which he 
called Espiritu Santo, rolled somewhere ahead of him, for 
when he sent Maldonado back to Havana it was with orders 
to meet him in six months at its mouth. Having wasted 
much blood and found no gold, De Soto came in time to 
his river of the Holy Ghost. He died there and was buried 
in its flood. The remnant of his party built boats and 
sailed down the river "to the opening gulf." But De 
Soto's southern river seems to have made little stir. What 
men wanted was a river flowing toward China. No other 
was of interest. Geographers pictured Espiritu Santo a 
truncated stream, sketching it in with what now appears 
a deprecatory lightness. Their brief, vague tracings, 
sometimes not even named, hint no suspicion that the 
Espiritu Santo might flow out of lands remotely com- 
parable in extent to those the Amazon drained. 

Belief in a narrow North America continued unchal- 
lenged. A brass globe manufactured at Rouen nearly a 
hundred years after Columbus' discovery depicted what 


was now confidently referred to as "the Northwest Pas- 
sage." In the opening years of a new century Henry 
Hudson in the Half Moon was questing the North Atlantic 
for this passage; and Champlain, a countryman of Carrier, 
pushed into the St. Lawrence to Carrier's Mont Royale, or 
Montreal, only to be stopped a few miles farther on by a 
certain wild rapids. Here, scanning the Impenetrable 
West, he put restive inquiry to the savages. Through a 
haze of savage speech and sign language, partly under- 
stood, partly guessed at, one may suppose, there appeared 
to his imagining the lands his informants were wont to 
hunt over, all strewn with lakes and seamed with rivers, 
and on beyond, yet other lands and lakes known by hear- 
say from more western tribes, and beyond all or so 
Champlain conjectured as he li&tened the sea. The Sea 
of Cathay, of course. What other? It floated, and was 
to float for thirty years thereafter, a bright mirage before 
Champlain's eyes, sometimes gleaming almost within his 
reach, sometimes far off shrouded in mists of fable and 

Champlain set a colony on the rock of Quebec and 
from that base strove the rest of his life to prove, as he 
once wrote his king, "the practicability of finding a way to 
China." If lake waters reached the Atlantic by the St. 
Lawrence, why not the Pacific, too, by some channel yet 
to be discovered? A youth whom Champlain sent to win- 
ter among the Algonquins returned pretending he had 
traveled to the coast of the western seas, and Champlain 
swiftly set off up the Ottawa only to find the tale a fiction. 
Continually through many years there came to the ears 
of the French at Quebec reports of a nation living on 
shores beyond all the familiar tribes, different from them 
and speaking an unknown tongue, men without beards. 


Were they Chinese or Japanese, perhaps, these fabled 
Gens de Mer? Champlain sent Jean Nicollet to make his 
way if possible to this far-off Sea People and get the truth 
about them. 

According to the Jesuit Relation which records this 
journey, Nicollet in his capacity of ambassador took along 
with him and did actually don, to the astonishment of the 
Indians on Green Bay, "a great robe of China damask, 
all strewn with flowers and birds of divers colors," Nicol- 
let went farther west than any white man had ever pene- 
trated before. Just before he turned back at the river 
called now the Fox he questioned the natives, as Cham- 
plain had done on the St. Lawrence thirty years before. 
They told him of a "great water" lying three days' journey 
farther on. Nicollet was persuaded that, if not yet in 
China, he was certainly near to the outer rim of the conti- 
nent and so reported on his return. 

It had been almost a century since De Soto. The Span- 
iards in Peru and Mexico had now and again launched 
another search for eldorado. But Coronado and his coun- 
trymen were far more interested in the Seven Cities of 
Cibola than in the vagrant hints which came to them of 
a river they called Espiritu Santo. The English were sow- 
ing colonies from Boston harbor southward. Royal grants 
parceled out the Atlantic seaboard in strips reaching west 
"to the South Sea'* meaning the Pacific. There are un- 
substantiated stories of two expeditions by Englishmen into 
the West. But the alleged journeys, if made, did not 
enable the English to tell geographers now to fill the void 
"back of Virginia," as they called it. The mystery of the 
West remained a mystery. And it was chiefly the French 
who troubled themselves about it. 

Champlain in his turn died without having found the 


way to Cathay. The Jesuits were now planting the Cross 
here and there in the dim western wilderness along the 
northern lake shores. They fell heir in some sort to the 
historic quest. In the letters they painstakingly wrote hack 
to France every year, they duly recorded along with the 
accounts of savage dream feasts and tortured prisoners, of 
the celebration of the holy mass in wild and wilder places 
the search for the route to China and Japan. 

And always drifting before their eyes went the mirage 
of the Indians' "great water" now near, now far. Fifty 
years after it had first flashed upon Champlain's vision 
through a tangle of savage fancies, Indian visitors at 
Quebec from a distant western tribe were telling Mother 
Marie of the Ursulines of a very advantageous river below 
their country flowing into a great sea; and she, sure this 
was the China Sea, was writing the news to France. A few 
years later two Frenchmen seeking furs on the shores of 
Lake Superior met a band of Hurons fleeing from Iroquois 
wrath. These fugitives "pushing their way over mountains 
and rocks, through vast unknown forests," had, they said, 
chanced upon "a beautiful river, large, wide and deep and 
worthy of comparison . . . with our St. Lawrence." 
Jesuit missionaries afield among the Iroquois below the 
colony heard from returning warriors of a country which 
the pious fathers could liken only to the promised land 
of the Israelites, so delectably did its description fall upon 
ears frostbitten by many Canadian winters: a southward 
land of soft climate and lush soil, where snow was unknown 
and leaves were always green, where com bore ears two 
feet long and the forests were more like orchards than 
forests, where there were "birds of all colors and of every 
note, especially little parrakeets," of whose feathers the re- 
turning warriors had fashioned for themselves brilliant 


scarves and belts. It was truly an Eden, this promised land 
of the Indians, and it lay moreover "along a beautiful river 
widen carries the people down to the great Lake (for so 
they call the sea). . . ." 

Every syllable the Indians let fall was set down thus 
minutely. Minutely, too, were recorded the geographical 
hypotheses of the Jesuit fathers concerning the unknown 
river and Its conjectural sea, hypotheses as various and 
fanciful In their own way as the Indians* stories. Now 
one held a theory that the mysterious river circled all the 
lakes, rising in the north and running to the south. Now 
they had it flowing east and entering the Atlantic by the Sea 
of Virginia. Now, by Immemorial hope, it became the 
watery road to China, flowing west and emptying into the 
Vermilion Sea hard by the coast of New Granada. But 
actual exploration, arduous and usually without visible 
fruit, was at best an intermittent interest to the mission- 
aries, concerned, as they chiefly were, with the saving of 
savage souls and a holy martyrdom. The mystery of those 
often rumored western waters waited, year after year, for 
some one who would be willing, like Columbus and Cham- 
plain, to match his life against It. 



THE second child of Jean Cavelier, merchant of Rouen, 
dwelling in the parish of St. Herbland, was bom in that 
city and that parish November 21, 1643, and was baptized 
on the following day in the parish church. The church of 
St. Herbland stood in the parvis of the great cathedral just 
where the Rue de la Grosse Horloge had its beginning and 
was the church from which each new archbishop must set 
off barefoot on his first journey to the episcopal chair. In 
so venerable a setting it is hard to conceive of a more in- 
conspicuous ceremony than that of holding a day-old child 
at the font and giving it a name. This infant was in time 
to wear many different names, successively and conjointly, 
and to be remembered at last by one which bore no re- 
semblance to that written down on the parish register that 
day. But Jean Cavelier, honorable bourgeois, wearing, 
himself, a plain name, christened his second son Robert 
Cavelier, no more. 

So baptized and borne in the arms of his godmother, the 
gentlewoman honnete personne Marguerite Morice, 
young Robert, even as the barefoot archbishops, came out 
through the doors of St. Herbland to begin his own par- 
ticular journey. It was probably raining it usually is 
in Rouen in November. Or there was a fog from the sea, 
torn to tatters on the serried spires, but lying thick and cold 
in the narrow streets between the leaning, gabled houses, 
causing the girls who hurried with their pitchers to the 



nearest fountain, to cough and draw closer their shawls of 
thick Rouen wool. But if the estimable person who was 
young Robert's godmother hastily cloaked his day-old 
mouth against the cold, it was quite -unnecessary. This 
was a lusty youngster with good Norman blood to warm 
him against Norman damp. 

Aside from being born in a Rouen November, this child 
had nothing to complain of. The Cavelier family was one 
of the wealthiest and most distinguished in Rouen. The 
brothers, Henri and Jean, the boy's uncle and father, were 
wholesale merchants, rich in money and lands. Although 
they bore no titles they lived in the same ease as the gentry 
in the chateaus on the hills over the city. Henri Cavelier 
was one of the Hundred Associates whom Richelieu had 
organized to carry on the colonization Champlain had be- 
gun in the New World. Jean Cavelier was Master of the 
Confrerie of St. Jean, the cloth-merchants* fraternity, rich- 
est confrerie in Rouen. He walked in all their proces- 
sions on fete days or at the funerals of past masters, a 
prominent figure in his robes of ceremony. 

Young Robert Cavelier, together with the brother who 
was seven years older than himself, and the little brother 
and sister who were to come after him, was heir to both 
luxury and privilege: to coats of the best cloth of France 
witness the woolly lamb in the Rouen crest; to an abun- 
dance of duckling, the fame of the region, and to a plenty 
of sweet Norman apples; to none of the cruelty and want 
lurking in the dark old streets about him and to all of the 
beauty with which those same old streets were teeming. 
All daily occasions of his childhood, big and little, were 
marked by the echo of bells. Each bell had a voice of its 
own, with which it seemed to speak the words that were 
engraved upon it: "I am named Georges d'Amboise," 


boomed the giant in the Butter Tower, with a tone so pure 
that, it was said, its maker had died of joy at hearing its 
first peal. And far down the Rue de la Grosse Horloge^ 
the veteran Rouvel chimed, "I am named Rouvel," and his 
lusty fellow answered, "And I am Cache-Ribaut." On 
Ascension Day all the bells of the tower of St. Romain were 
in full swing: "Guillaume d'Etouteville," the great 
"Rigault" so heavy that its ringer was forever thirsty; 
"La Romaine," "Thibault et Nicolas/' "La Petite Marie/' 
"Le Grand Saint-Benoit," "Jean de Lux/' "Louise de Gra- 
ville." The carved and timbered houses shook to their 
ringing. Bells for prayers, bells for rejoicing, bells for 
curfew, as though the fog tangled in the bristling steeples 
had a tongue of bronze that would never be stilled. 

Old folk deplored the passing of the pomp and color 
of the medieval city, but fetes were still numerous enough 
throughout the childhood of young Robert Cavelier. Every 
year the high bells called them one after another: the Fete 
of Ste. Anne when the children flitted as angels and virgins 
along the Rue de la Grosse Horloge; the Pentecost when 
all the congregation stood below the cathedral to be show- 
ered with birds and leaves and flowers; the Feast of Farm- 
ers in November, the month of Robert's birthday; the Feast 
of Kings when cakes were cut and household kings were 
crowned and all the ships in port were lighted; day of St. 
Louis, patron saint of drapers when Jean Cavelier led his 
confrerie through the streets with full splendor of blue 
velvet tunics streivn with fleur-de-lys, images of St. Louis 
and St. Marcouf , the big red velvet purse filled with copper 
counters. On Ascension Day the chapter of Notre Dame 
claimed its ancient privilege of setting some prisoner free. 
All the windows and even the steep roofs were filled with 
people then, and the streets were liquid with banners and 


garlands and candles and the red and violet robes of ecclesi- 
astics. Once in Robert's day, by great good luck, a new 
archbishop in obedience to ancient ceremony came bare- 
foot out of the parish church of St. Herbland, and before 
the people of Rouen packed close in the parvis, received the 
(^episcopal ring with the solemn words: "Messire, I give it 
to you living. You will return it dead." And once that 
! was in Robert's seventh year the little king of France, 
u Louis XIV, then twelve years old, was brought on a visit 
* to Rouen and stayed fifteen days in the town. 

The college of the Jesuits, up the slopes past St. Maclou 
and St. Ouen, was held in great esteem. Sons of noblemen, 
merchants and drapers, some sixteen hundred in all, at- 
'fended it; among the rest, young Robert Cavelier as soon as 
^ he was old enough and had mastered the rudiments exacted 
fl for entrance. His father, having won riches and honor 
for himself as a merchant, probably had the deep respect 
for learning usual with such men. About him he saw the 
sons of other men achieving success in the learned profes- 
sions. Blaise Pascal, son of the former king's intendant 
at Rouen, had made himself famous with his theories of 
the vacuum and his doctrinal letters. Pierre Corneille, 
who in boyhood had taken prizes in Latin verse at this same 
^school which Robert Cavelier now attended, was writing 
plays in his house near the Place du Vieux Marche. What- 
ever special ambition Jean Cavelier nursed for his second 
son, Robert, he guaranteed to him as to Jean, his eldest, 
later on to become a priest, and to Nicolas, the third son, 
who would be a lawyer when he grew up that youthful 
acquaintance with the letters of Cicero and the gerundive 
which the good merchant himself perhaps had missed. 
Young Robert was put to school to the Jesuits. Like the 
rest of the school he had his share in the public exercises in 


July and September when the college theater reverberated 
to young voices declaiming Latin drama and the prizes 
were given out. Like the rest he studied, as was carefully 
laid down in the sacred Plan of Studies, the humanities, 
grammar, rhetoric, languages. Like the rest he wore a 
blue soutane close-buttoned with straight sleeves and skirts 
reaching to his ankles, and over his shoulders a long black 

Most of the students were grown-up youths. Only a few 
were pensionnaires at the college. The rest lodged in 
private houses or the inns of Rouen. Dismissed from 
classes and free to pursue their own desires they followed 
the violent turbulent ways common to the student life of 
the times. But Robert was much younger and subject to the 
restraints of his father's house. Left to himself no doubt 
he wandered often down on the river-front. No boy grow- 
ing up in Rouen, least of all a merchant's son, would fail 
to spend all the time he could on those fascinating quays. 
Across the river at that day stretched a curious bridge on 
boats which rose and fell with the tide and shook so to 
heavy loads that, rumor runs, a peasant now and then 
dropped over into the Seine and drowned. All the river- 
side streets, where the inns and wineshops were, swarmed 
with sailors glad to be ashore and glad to talk to a boy, 
of far lands and strange adventure. And the harbor was 
always crowded with ships from the high seas unloading 
their cargo onto barges for Paris. And such cargoes! 
Pepper and ivory and gold from the African coast, cod and 
herring from the northern fisheries, bales of beaver skins 
from New France. No port of the known world was too 
far for the men of Rouen to fetch riches from it. They had 
got the name of wanderers the whole world over. "The 


lamb of Rouen," said an old Norman proverb, "has always 
the lifted foot." ' 

The brothers Cavelier, Robert's father and uncle, must 
have been familiar figures along the quays. They surely 
came here to bid the ships of Rouen godspeed and again 
to welcome them when they made port with their freight 
from overseas. Beneath whichever carved and painted 
triton, satyr, or mammoth bunch of grapes marked the 
doorway of their favorite hostelry, the merchant brothers 
sat with their friends, sipping white wine of Anjou and 
talking of the price of furs and silks and spices and of the 
route to China. One fancies the schoolboy hovering close, 
in his long buttoned gown, gathering it all into the inner 
drama which every boy is always weaving a different 
drama on different days perhaps, but always with the same 
hero at the heart of it. 

No doubt he read Champlain's Voyages, Sagard's Grand 
Voyage du Pays des Hurons, and Marc Lescarbot the 
Muses of New France with the sonnet to Champlain: 

"Car d'un fleuve infni tu cherches I'origine, 
A fin qu'a Vavenir y faisant ton sejour 
Tu nous faces par Id parvenir a la Chine." 

And the history of New France with its stirring challenge: 
"He [Champlain] promises us never to stop until he has 
pushed to the Western Sea, or to that of the North, to open 
the way to China by so many men sought in vain. As to 
the Western Sea, I believe that at the end of the greatest 
lake . . . there will be found some great river either 
emptying into it or going out of it (like that of Canada) 
to the ocean. And as to the Northern Sea, he has hopes of 
approaching it through the river of Saguenay. . . This 
being the case, there will be exercise enough for the youth 


of France in those quarters . . . where so many laurels 
and riches offer themselves for conquest." 

Even inside the walls of the Jesuit class-rooms, the 
seductive hints of far places stole in to tangle themselves 
with the Latin conjugations. At that time the press of 
Cramoisy at Paris was publishing every year a little book 
of Jesuit Relations containing the newest adventures of 
the missionary priests among the savages in the wilds be- 
yond New France. These books, breathing primitive 
danger and high personal courage, thrilled everybody who 
read them, and all over France people did read them, from 
courtiers and provincial nobles on down. In the Jesuit 
colleges the reverend fathers read them aloud to the boy 
students and the bo^s easily found them more absorbing 
than Cicero or Homer. Whatever vague aspirations and 
longings were beginning to disquiet Robert Cavelier's 
fourteen-year-old heart inside his close-buttoned blue sou- 
tane, must have gathered about the heroes of the Relations: 
Father Jogues, struck down by a Mohawk hatchet; Father 
Brebeuf of the mighty sinews; Father Raymbault, whom 
God led on the road to heaven just when he was hoping to 
find the way to China through the wilderness; Father Le 
Jeune, seeking martyrdom from the time in his own school- 
days when he saw himself in his dreams being tortured by 

Robert Cavelier's older brother, Jean, was a grown 
young man now and must have been preparing for his mis- 
sionary career in New France. When his studies should be 
finished, Jean would be sailing across the Atlantic like 
Father Le Jeune and Father Brebeuf and all their holy 
company. To his own family he may well have seemed 
already a greater hero than any of them. The merchant 
and his wife, proud of Jean and steeped in religious tradi- 


tion, would certainly be glad if one of the two younger 
boys should follow Jean's example. They may have 
exerted some pressure to bring the happy event about. But 
maybe they did not. Robert Cavelier must have had even 
then a strong will of his own. He needed no prompting but 
that of his own inward ardor. At all events, he decided to 
become a priest. 

Jean's future lay with the new order of St. Sulpice, but 
Robert chose the Society of Jesus, brotherhood of the heroes 
and martyrs of the American wilderness. The training 
was long and rigorous: two years for the novitiate; three or 
four for the course in philosophy; five, six, sometimes more 
as regent of lower classes; from four to six for the course 
in theology; one for the novitiate leading up to the final 
vows. But perhaps he hardly reckoned it all up he was 
only fourteen. Or perhaps the very hardness appealed to 
him. The harder a thing was, he was to say long after- 
ward, the greater the glory in doing it. 

However that may be, in the October before his fifteenth 
birthday, Robert Cavelier left his father's house in the 
shadow of the cathedral, left the clamor of Georges d'Am- 
boise and old Rouvel, left the quays with the restless ships 
riding at anchor before it, to journey to Paris and enter 
there the Jesuit house of novices. 

There were no secular studies during the novitiate, only 
the practice of asceticism, prayer and meditation, a pro- 
found intimacy with the aims of Ignatius Loyola and the 
Society of Jesus and with the deeps of the novice's own 
soul. The boy was drilled in Loyola's Spiritual Exercises 
until heaven and hell were real and vivid to him. He was 
trained to "see with the eyes of the imagination those 
enormous fires, and the souls as it were in bodies of fire" 
... to "hear with the imagination the lamentations, howl- 


ings, cries, the blasphemies against Christ our Lord and 
against all His saints" . . . to "smell with the sense of 
smell of the imagination the smoke, brimstone, refuse, and 
rotting things of hell. . . ." 

The master of novices in Robert Cavelier's day was 
Father Mouret, an able man, long eminent in the order., 
with a wide experience of young souls in the throes of 
passions, earthly and mystical. Surely if a boy were not 
meant to become a priest, here was the man to help him 
discover it. But whatever turbulences of body or spirit 
the young Norman encountered in those two mystic years 
Father Mouret brought him through them. He emerged, 
not quite seventeen, a tall overgrown boy with wistful 
profile pointing to an ideal as sharply as any high-prowed 
ship of Rouen cleaving its way by the needle point. 
Ignatius, that was it. Ignatius, knight and saint. 

On October 10, 1660, a fete day in the Order, Robert 
Cavelier bound himself to the Society of Jesus for life, 
by the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. At 
the same time he added to the name which he had received 
from his parents at baptism Loyola's own: Robert Ignace 
Cavelier he was now. 

He was forthwith ranked a scholastic in the Order, this 
young Brother Ignatius, and sent to learn science in the 
college of Henry IV, the Society's great university at La 
Fleche. The world of science was then strewn with as 
many unknown reaches, terror incognitos., as the globes in 
Jesuits 9 libraries. An English boy named Isaac Newton, 
younger than Brother Ignatius, would be only beginning a 
year from now to watch the stars over Cambridge through 
the telescope Galileo had invented in the beginning of the 
century; and, although he must often before now have seen 
apples fall to the ground, he had not yet taken proper note 


of it. The habits of the moon knew still no accountable 
law. Watches and clocks there were, but a reliable sea- 
going timepiece had never been invented. Seamen con- 
tinued to turn over their sand-glasses at the end of each 
half -hour and to guess at their longitude by the compass 
needle and crude tables concerning its partly understood 

However, all the world of science so far as it was known 
spread out before the seventeen-year-old Brother Ignatius: 
physics, cosmology, astronomy, mathematics. He could 
not have asked for abler guides than the erudite Jesuits. 
There were none better versed in the latest geographic 
tenets concerning the size and shape of the continent beyond 
the North Atlantic, better fitted to discipline by sound 
instruction whatever hodge-podge of day-dreams and 
sailors* yarns might fill a boy's head. "When the Jesuit 
masters of the youthful Brother Ignatius spoke to him of 
the route to China, which they and all the world were ex- 
pecting to be found at almost any time now along some 
New World river, you may be sure it was with due 
emphasis on the fact that such discoveries were rarely made 
by men unable to take a reckoning by the stars or draft a 
proper map. Brother Ignatius, the young scholastic, ap- 
plied himself to the Elements of Euclid, fingered the 
spheres and the astrolabe, the cross-staff and compass, and 
was quizzed by his masters to prove he "surpassed 
mediocrity." In the records beside his name his unusual 
gifts and a special talent for mathematics were duly written 
down: "Ingenium optimum, talentum habet ad mathe- 
matical He was no doubt utterly absorbed during this 
period, and entirely happy. 

The young Jesuits were expected to teach usually 
after they had had a full three years of science. Brother 


Ignatius, however, only two years advanced upon his In- 
teresting exploration of the continents of science, was 
abruptly recalled to the stale air of the grammar school by 
an order to go to Alengon to be regent of the "Fifth," or 
beginners' class. The next year he was allowed to return 
to La Fleche for his third and last year of science. But 
the year after that he had to become a regent again, at 
Tours this time, under the supervision of a prefect of 
studies, tutoring little boys in Latin Grammar and the let- 
ters of Cicero. 

To the watchful eyes overlooking his daily life, Brother 
Ignatius began to exhibit characteristics less valuable to the 
Society of Jesus than his talent for mathematics. His 
faults were weighed as carefully as his virtues and re- 
corded in neat Latin phrases: Inquietus" the rector at 
Tours described him. "Parum studiosus, in suo sensu 
abundans " Unquiet, was he, and none too studious? 
Ah, but did not the last phrase explain it? Abundant in his 
emotions. The heritage of Norman strength was his. It 
was four years since he had taken his vows. Things were 
hardly so simple for him now as they had seemed then. 
He was twenty-one years old, in full bodily vigor, and he 
wore a long black gown and taught a class of little boys 
to chant the conjugations. 

His restlessness betrayed him into erratic behavior. He 
became reckless of who knows what precedents in the nicely 
balanced decorum which hedged him in: "Judicium tenue, 
prudentia parva slight judgment, little prudence, 9 ' one 
rector commented. "Judicium valde mediocre, prudentia 
valde mediocris judgment very mediocre, prudence very 
mediocre," echoed another. "And yet he is scrupulous 
et tamen scrupulosus" they congratulated themselves, 
counting on his honor to bind him as some merchant on 


the quay at Rouen, watching his high-prowed ship heave 
and strain with the tide of an unseen ocean, might note 
approvingly the stoutness of its anchor chains. 

During the following year, as spring came on, Brother 
Ignatius appears to have been uncommonly shaken by those 
invisible tides. He still had the Jesuit Relations, of course, 
for such reassurance as he might be able to draw from 
them. It is likely he read them aloud to the boys in his 
classes he was now professor of the "Third" at Blois as 
his own masters once had read them to him, searching 
through those familiar pages for some lost boyish vision 
of a priestly hero setting out to plumb the unknown, his 
camp kettle, his breviary, and his astrolabe beside him in 
a frail Indian canoe. Anyway, from Blois that April he 
wrote a letter to the Reverend Father Jean-Paul Oliva, 
General of the Society of Jesus at Rome praying the Gen- 
eral to send him to the foreign missions. 

From the point of view of the Reverend Father General 
the request was little short of absurd. The Constitutions 
of the Order required of the candidate for the foreign 
service certain exact academic attainments and a full spirit- 
ual ripeness. This suppliant as the Reverend Father 
General had only to flick the pages of the careful reports 
at his hand to discover was barely twenty-two, had 
studied neither scholastic nor moral theology, and what 
is here? was "unquiet, none too studious," had "little 
judgment or prudence." The Reverend Father Genera] 
wrote, all in Latin of course, to his aspiring young brothei 
under date of May 4, Rome: 

"I deeply approve the excellent zeal which you mani 
fest in your letter of April 5; and I readily advise yoi 
to cherish that purpose with great fervor as you are do 


ing and to hold yourself in the most perfect indifference. 
The time is unfavorable, however, to put your desire into 
execution and you ought not to think of it now. But in 
waiting make yourself useful to the foreign missions 
which you solicit. Equip yourself with the learning 
habitually required for this ministry." 

Now, in the Society of Jesus it was held that obedience 
to the General was obedience to God, whose representative 
on earth he was. Ignatius Loyola had written: "I ought 
not to be my own but His who created me, and his, too, 
through whom God governs me. I ought to be like a corpse 
which has neither will nor understanding; like a crucifix 
that is turned about by him who holds it; like a staff in the 
hands of an old man who uses it at will." But submission 
was not easy for the young Norman who had taken Saint 
Ignatius' name. He wrote again to Rome. Again he 
was answered, still in Latin of course, and much more 
briefly: "I have received your second letter but I have no 
other answer to make to it than that which I have addressed 
to you on the fourth of May last." 

That summer Jean Cavelier, now a doctor of theology in 
the Sulpitian fraternity, in the company of three brother 
priests, set sail over the Atlantic in the Moulin d'Or* In 
the autumn Brother Ignatius returned to the university at 
La Fleche to begin a four-year course of study, not science 
this time, but Scholastic Theology, Moral Theology, Sacred 
Scripture, Hebrew and Oriental Languages, Ecclesiastical 
History and Canon Law. The ordered days moved 
smoothly at La Fleche: prayers and confessional, theology 
and Hebrew, with now a Latin play in the vaulted theater 
and now a slow pacing on the familiar banks of the Loire, 
the long gown swinging gently about the ankles. Gentle- 


men's sons with their swords and their notebooks rioted 
through the inns of the town like the students at Rouen. 
But a candidate for holy orders must behave decorously. 

In the late autumn the ships returning from New France 
made port one after another: the St. Jean, the St. Joseph, 
the Paon, and Jean's ship, the Moulin d'Or* The Cavelier 
family was able to have news of Jean. Jean had landed at 
Quebec on September 6. With his three confreres he 
had been entertained at dinner by the Jesuit fathers. 
Within the week of arrival one of the Sulpitians had set out 
with the colonial troops marching against the Iroquois. 
Jean and the others were turning their faces toward the 
island of Montreal, to which the Sulpitians held seignorial 
rights and which was called in the colony "the head of the 
country" because it lay far up the river where navigation 

Brother Ignatius' restlessness became extreme. Twice 
by December first he had written the Reverend Father Gen- 
eral. He was importunate, even a little irrational: if he 
couldn't go to the foreign missions, why couldn't he go to 
Portugal? The Jesuits had universities in Portugal. He 
could study there as well as here. The Reverend Father 
General, answering, mildly judged it inexpedient to accede 
to his desires. "You are, therefore, to be allowed to re- 
main quietly in your province. And when you have fin- 
ished your studies and achieved your third year of pro- 
bation" in five more years, that was to say "I shall 
attempt to fulfill your zealous wish." 

Brother Ignatius wrote one more letter, the last as he 
intended, that he should ever write to Rome. It was 
promptly effective. The answer, when it came, was 
couched in the same smooth, rolling, Latin phrases as all 
the others which the Reverend Father had written him: 


"What you set forth to me on January 10 concerning 
the various weaknesses to which you are addicted has 
won my deepest pity. My decision, in view of every- 
thing, you will be able to learn from your provincial, 
upon whom I have conferred the power to absolve and 
free you from your vows. But, dearest brother, wherever 
you go and whatever your future station, be mindful 
whence you have fallen and give heed to the rock whence 
you have been hewn; and in however distant a place 
nevertheless in your heart try always with us and with 
Jesus to live. His grace be always with you." 

Things moved swiftly to an end. At Rouen the life of 
Jean Cavelier was closing or had already closed; the ac- 
counts of the Confrerie of St. Jean for that year mention 
one wax candle, bought at cost of one livre, for his buriaL 
Certainly at the funeral of the master the conf rerie marched 
through the streets as its wont was with all its finest 
treasures the splendid velvet pall, the blue tunics span- 
gled with fleurs-de-lys, the images of St. Louis and St. 
Marcouf . At La Fleche a career drew to its end with no 
such pomp. Brother Ignatius had no affairs to order. 
Under French law one who forsook the church and re- 
turned to the world could make no claim on his father's 
estate. Brother Ignatius laying by his vow of poverty 
would become poor indeed. His letters of dismissal were 
issued as Rome had ordered. And he passed for the last 
time under the bust of Henry IV in the niche over the 
monumental portal. His going was no doubt secret as was 
usual with such departures from the Order. He was 
twenty-three. Without father or fortune, what would he 
do now? 


LATE in the following autumn there appeared as guest at 
a wedding at Villemarie in the island of Montreal a youth 
whom the other guests doubtless described to each other as 
the Abbe Jean Cavelier's young brother. At what pains 
he might have been at to arrive, in which of the eleven 
ships of the year he had traveled, or what he was going 
to do now that he was here, they were probably far from 
guessing. Perhaps they hardly wondered. Young men, 
like silver money, were less a novelty "since the soldiers 
came," as the colony just now was dating everything. And 
on this particular occasion any newcomer must have been 
completely overshadowed. Captain Sidrac Dugue, Sieur 
de Boisbriant, Captain in his Majesty's regiment of Carig- 
nan-Salieres, was marrying Marie Moyen des Granges, a 
demoiselle of quality, orphaned, but under the protection 
of the chief notables of New France. There were present 
any number of people more important than the Abbe Cave- 
lier's young brother, the Abbe Cavelier himself for one; 
and all his confreres, Messieurs the gentlemen of St. Sul- 
pice, lords in seignory of Montreal; the elderly Mademoi- 
selle Mance and the sisterhood of the Hotel Dieu from 
whose care the bride was just issuing; the bride's sister 
Elizabeth, a major's widow; all the Sieur de Boisbriant's 
brother officers of the Carignan regiment and their ladies; 
all the prominent citizens of *Villemarie such men as Le 
Ber and Le Moyne, and their wives. 



The Abbe Cavelier's brother, however, chanced to be 
among those who signed the register. Did he, as he took 
the pen, hesitate slightly to consider how he should sign? 
There was already one Robert Cavelier at Villemarie, 
enough certainly in a population of little more than seven 
hundred. Or perhaps that name Robert Cavelier brought 
up too vividly a certain Brother Ignatius whom he wanted 
now to forget, himself, and did not care to have other men 
recall. All the noblemen's sons whom he had known in 
the Jesuits' schoolrooms had worn the name of some family 
domain. It 'was quite the usual thing to do. His own 
family had a place called La Salle not far from Rouen. 
For a given name Rene would serve as well as Robert 
perhaps, as some guess, he had received the name Rene at 
confirmation, although it has not appeared on the Jesuit 
registers. Whatever his reasons, he wrote inconspicuously 
in his looped flowing hand, "Rene de La Salle" and stepped 
aside for the next guest to sign. 

Villemarie of Montreal to a newcomer must have seemed 
a desolate place. Once in every year just after the ships 
from France had got in, the settlement was astir with life: 
traders and seamen and clerks come up the river from 
Quebec, Indians come down from the friendly tribes along 
the upper lakes bringing fleets of canoes weighted low in 
the water with beaver and bear-skins. During the weeks 
of the annual trading, Villemarie hummed with business 
and excitement. The Indians made themselves gaudy with 
French beads and sham gold lace, and drunk with fiery 
brandy. Even the habitants bought all they would need for 
the coming year, provisions and tools, and dry-goods 
rouenneries, they called such goods after the French city 
with the woolly lamb in its crest, where they had been 


After the autumn trading, Villemarie settled into long 
and frozen quiet. Besides the buildings of the gentlemen 
of St. Sulpice and the Hotel Dieu, the settlement consisted 
of the place d'armes with its one store and a ragged file of 
houses, mostly of wood, straggling along the river-front 
with the so-called chateau at one end beyond a little river, 
and, at the other, on a rise of ground, the combination 
windmill and citadel. There were still no streets, only 
paths leading from the chateau to the place d'armes and 
from house to house. The town was young, of course of 
about the same age as the Abbe Cavelier's young brother 
and it had suffered much. Founded for the glory of God 
rather than gain, it had long seemed to fulfill no destiny but 
a continuing bloody martyrdom at the hands of the Iro- 
quois. The habitants said, however, that it was growing 
"since the soldiers came," and a few courageous souls were 
beginning to till the outlying fields. 

The king was all for agriculture and solid colonial ad- 
vancement. Witness the soldiers he had sent. Witness this 
year's eleven ships freighted with sheep and horses and 
cows and workmen and girls. Marriages were taking place 
one after another. Messieurs the gentlemen of St. Sulpice, 
lords of the island of Montreal, were parceling out the 
lands to the young menages, sometimes even paying the 
first expenses to get them started. The soldiers and officers 
were being encouraged to become settlers. Captain Sidrac 
Dugue and his bride, for example, at the king's good 
pleasure were to begin an establishment in lie Ste. Therese. 

For the protection of these pioneer farms and no less 
for the battle-scarred Villemarie, the Sulpitian Seminary 
decided to establish an outpost on the south side of the 
island eight or nine miles beyond the settlement beside the 
roaring rapids which marked the end of navigation for 


white men's boats. It was a wild and lonely spot. Afc 
establishment such as they had in mind, half fort, half 
trading-post, placed thus at the door of the Indian country 
to break the shock of surprise attack, would be equally in 
position to enjoy a brisk trade in beaver. The lords of the 
island further balanced the danger by naming the post a 
seignory. And then they cast about for somebody to give 

it to. 

The younger brother of their confrere, the Abbe Cave- 
Her, was a robust, hardy young man, not likely to shy away 
from a hint of danger, and, like the soldiers, he jingled a 
bit of good French silver in his pockets. His family had, 
after all, made him a tiny pension, some three or four 
hundred livres, and he had asked for and got the capital 
instead. He must have paid his passage out of that. So 
what he had left by now was a trifling sum. All the same, a 
piece of fifteen sous was worth twenty at Villemarie, and 
the whole settlement looked on him as a young man with 
something more than a beggar's chance at the fortune he 
was, supposedly, come to seek. The gentlemen of St. 
Sulpice in particular, who so often had to make a cash 
advance with the lands which they presented, in order to 
get them cleared and into cultivation, did not, in reckoning 
up the youth's qualifications, overlook that bit of ready 
money in his possession. Briefly, it was he whom they 
chose to confer their wilderness seignory upon. 

Whatever hand the Abbe Jean may have had in the mat- 
ter, one fancies him delighted. His young brother's future 
was fixed. If only their father, the honorable merchant of 
Rouen, could have lived to see the house of Cavelier so 
firmly founded in New France! And the youth himself, 
who had taken a name like a nobleman and now found 
himself possessed of a feudal estate as well was he 


equally delighted? Perhaps not. But lie could hardly 
have found a single reason for refusing such a bounty. 
The proposal was, besides, not without attractive features 
the situation was remote, the undertaking difficult, even 
dangerous. And one winter of idleness in Villemarie was 
about all a young man of his turbulent energies could stand. 
Here was something to do. He accepted the property, 
named it the Seignory of St. Sulpice, and fell to work, 
clearing the land and building houses. 

That summer was the hottest in years, as hot, Mother 
Marie of the Ursulines wrote to France, as in the American 
Islands. Under the burning sun the youthful seignor 
traced the outline of a village and began to give out con- 
cessions. To each colonist he offered for a building lot a 
half arpent of ground, about three-quarters of an acre, 
inside the projected palisades where all might enjoy some 
measure of security from Indian attack, and outside the 
enclosure sixty arpents of land to cultivate. The rent, to 
be paid, not at St. Martin, as was usual, but at the fete of 
St. Sulpice, he fixed at half a sou for each arpent of farm 
land, and three cocks, and six deniers, or one half-sou, in 
good French coin, for the half-arpent inside the village. 
To encourage early settling, he agreed to remit entirely 
the first three years' rent of all who should be established 
by the feast of St. Jean of the following summer. He gave 
to all, the fishing and hunting rights of their property, and 
set aside two hundred arpents over toward Lac St. Pierre 
where all might freely pasture their stock. He got ten or 
twelve arpents cleared and ready for the pick-ax, and on 
three of them the wood split and piled. He began to build 
his own seignorial house which, also, he named St. Sulpice. 
His bit of money melted through his fingers. But he was 
laying the foundations of a solid fortune fine news for the 


Abbe Jean to send back to their mother when the ships 
returned to France in the autumn. 

During the next winter, however, the young man's second 
in the New World, a band of Senecas, at Villemarie for 
the annual trading, remained to winter with the young 
seignor either at that house in Villemarie which he seems 
to have rented for himself for the winter, or in some half- 
finished building on his estate beside the rapids now frozen 
into stillness. In whichever place he housed his guests and 
chiefly passed his own time, that time hung heavy. He 
applied himself to the study of Indian tongues in several 
dialects, and now and then made shift to converse, in the 
long and snow-wrapped silences, with his savage visitors. 

He questioned them about the country from which they 
came. The northern shores of the upper lakes, along 
which the Jesuit missions were scattered, he knew through 
the pages of the Relations, familiar to him from his earliest 
schooldays. As though he had traveled it, he knew the 
time-honored toilsome route by the Ottawa River and Lake 
Nipissing and the later, slightly less difficult way down 
through Lake Ontario and up Georgian Bay. But the 
Southwest, from Champlain's time to this day, had been 
closed to the French by the arrogant Iroquois. Among 
these Senecas, farthest southwest of the five Iroquois peo- 
ples, there were now Jesuit missions; but beyond, all was 
still unknown. Anything might lie there. He put question 
after question to the Indians and listened intently to their 

He understood imperfectly of course. And even when 
he caught the words all matters of fact were veiled in Indian 
hyperbole: "a country so abundant in roebucks and wild 
cattle that they were as thick as the woods and so great a 
number of tribes that there could not possibly be more." 


But little by little through savage syllables and similes 
there gleamed to his imagining, like water glimpsed far- 
off through trees, a great river, the Beautiful River they 
named it, which "had its course to the West and at the end 
of which, after seven or eight months' traveling . . the 
land was 6 cut, 9 that is to say, according to their manner of 
speaking, the river fell into the sea." 

It was the old, old mirage. He knew how many men 
had followed it in vain. He had heard every version of 
the often rumored western waters. But coming now from 
the Indians* lips, the story fell upon his ears as freshly as 
if it had never been spoken before. He was startled and 
delighted as though these savages had drawn aside a leafy 
screen and disclosed at his feet an actual river shining in 
the sun. 

The longing to go in search of it at once possessed him. 
He was as confident he could find it as if he had just been 
presented with an astrolabe and a map of the wilderness 
instead of a few scraps of Indian hearsay and fable. But 
an explorer must have money. His meager birthright, as 
well as some eighty livres besides, borrowed from one 
L'Huilier, he had spent upon his land. He must have 
hated now the sight of those rude clearings where the fallen 
trees for the most part not yet even cut up lay masked in 
midwinter snow. Surely he was dismayed to find himself 
ensnared for the second time in a career for which be had 
no taste. But he wasted no time in regret* He went to 
call upon his benefactors, the gentlemen of St. Sulpice, 
and actually persuaded them to buy back the larger part 
of the lands they had given him the year before, they in 
consideration assuming his eighty-livre debt to L'Huilier 
and furnishing him for his venture merchandise to the 


value of 1,000 Hvres to be delivered at Quebec when the 
ships of that year should arrive. 

At the time of this transaction he retained his personal 
domain, some four hundred and twenty arpents, with the 
buildings he had commenced, and a smaller, separate bit 
of ground. In this, his benefactors read a continuing zeal 
on his part toward that solid seignorial future they had out- 
lined for him, and in commendation they now conferred 
feudal dignity and rights upon his diminished estate. But 
in less than a month their protege traded his shrunken 
seignory, with its titles and lordly privileges, to one Jean 
Milot, an ironmonger, for a matter of 2,800 livres in cash 
and by means of it traveled down to Quebec to buy his outfit 
and get the governor's sanction of his proposed discovery. 
The gentlemen of St. Sulpice were properly shocked, as 
certain other priestly gentlemen had been not so long since, 
at his appalling want of judgment and prudence. The 
Abbe Jean Cavelier in particular must have been deeply 
chagrined to see his young brother fling away an assured 
fortune to follow after a chimera. 

At Quebec, however, the matter appeared in a more 
hopeful light. The young man carried everything before 
him by his ardor. Courcelles the governor received him 
courteously and was captivated by "the great number of 
fine speeches, of which he had no lack." If this youth 
could Jfind the Indians' river and by it die passage into the 
Vermilion Sea (the Gulf of California) it could only re- 
flect glory on Monsieur de Courcelles' administration. 
"Moreover it was costing him nothing." 

Monsieur de Courcelles, therefore, issued letters patent 
giving the young man the right to search the rivers and 
forests and lakes of Canada and commending him to the 
governors of Florida, Virginia, or whatever provinces to 


which Ms journeying might bring him. In his warmth 
Monsieur de Courcelles took it on himself, besides, to per- 
suade Dollier de Casson, a Sulpitian priest who chanced 
to be at the little capital buying supplies for a distant jour- 
ney of his own, to divert his zeal toward whatever savages 
might chance to dwell on the banks of the so-called Beauti- 
ful River in order that he might travel in the company of 
the young explorer. Further, the governor announced that 
any soldiers who wished might leave the ranks to go along. 
In short the expedition made a great noise from the upper 
town through the lower. And a gentleman of the place 
in a letter to France announced, albeit skeptically, that 
Monsieur de La Salle was setting forth "to discover a 
passage which would give us communication with Japan 
and China." 



THE young explorer and the priest who was to be his com- 
panion in adventure, with the outfits they both had bought 
at Quebec and their letters of authorization, the one from 
the governor and the other from his bishop, returned to 
Villemarie to make their final preparations. Galinee, a 
rising young deacon of the Sulpitian order, persuaded the 
superior of the seminary to let him go as companion to 
Dollier de Casson, because he, Galinee, had a smattering 
of mathematics and could draw up a map of the wilderness 
at need as if mathematics had not been the shining talent 
of a certain Brother Ignatius and was not now a treasure 
close-locked in the young explorer's breast, burning to be 
used. Young Robert Cavelier cannot have relished the 
idea of taking along on his cherished expedition a rival 
engineer. But it would have been useless to protest, for 
he was in disfavor now with the gentlemen of St. Sulpice. 
A rivalry of talents was not the only ground for antip- 
athy between these two youths. Galinee was of a noble 
family in Brittany. Robert Cavelier, though he called him- 
self De La Salle now, was a bourgeois and a Norman. In 
him the native Norman reserve was accentuated by a pain- 
ful shyness; but because his reticence could give way to a 
flood of passionate and persuasive speech on the subject 
of his great project, the urbane priestling mistrusted him, 
seeing behind his declared aim of a great discovery a 
secret greed for beaver. At the Normals naive reports 



of what, concerning a great river, "he thought he had 
learned from the Indians/ 9 Galinee merely smiled. Gali- 
nee believed La Salle understood nothing of the Indians' 
tongue. He refused to stir from ViJlemarie -without an 

How Galinee' s doubts affected the person against whom 
they were directed does not appear. Sensitiveness was a 
weakness of young Cavelier, but now he was harassed with 
a thousand material concerns incident to the journey. He 
went about Villemarie hiring men and buying canoes. The 
priestly turnout was to consist of three canoes and seven 
men; Cavelier, being now in funds and willing to stake 
his last sou, set himself to assemble four or five canoes and 
fourteen men. The contracts of engagement must be drawn 
up so as to protect him against desertion in the event he 
should find it expedient to alter at any time the direction 
of his journey or to prolong it through a second summer. 
Not all canoes were alike. Those made by the Iroquois 
of any kind of bark were heavy and liable to go to pieces 
in a month. Those the Algonquins made of birch bark 
were light to carry at the portages and so much more 
durable that with skillful patching they might be made to 
last for years. Prices varied, too. Bought from Indians 
a canoe cost nine or ten ecus in goods. From French to 
French they were much dearer Galinee had to pay eighty 
livres for his. 

It looked as if they never would get started. Louis 
Joliet, son of a wagon-maker of Quebec, got off from Mon- 
treal up the Ottawa with four canoes loaded with goods for 
trading, and orders from the governor to go as far as Lake 
Superior to look for a copper mine said to be in that 
region. At the middle of June, just as Cavelier de La 
Salle's party was at last ready to go, an Iroquois chief, in 


the pandemonium of the opening of the annual Great 
Trade, was murdered by three soldiers of the garrison. 
Villemarie trembled for that tenuous peace she had lately 
known and everybody said it was not a healthy time to set 
off into the Iroquois country. But Monsieur de Courcelles 
the governor arrived from Quebec, took summary action. 
The criminals were caught and promptly condemned to die. 
Now, surely, the travelers could leave. But the condemned 
men had a last request to make of Dollier de Casson they 
wanted him to stay and shrive them. Dollier de Casson 
was a kindly, likeable man, a soldier before he had become 
a priest, of a powerful build they say he could hold two 
men seated on his outstretched palms and once he felled 
without rising from his knees an Indian who interrupted 
his prayers. He was not at all the sort of man to refuse 
a last favor to three poor wretches though any of the 
eleven other Sulpitians might have served, and the date 
of the execution was yet fifteen days away. 

But even fifteen days of delay proved hardly long 
enough, after all, for the final arrangements of the harassed 
La Salle. In the course of his continuing preparations, 
pressing one Turcot for a bit of money which Turcot owed 
him, he stumbled on knowledge that this Turcot with two 
accomplices in the spring just past had murdered six 
Iroquois in a lonely hunting camp for a loot of furs. Here 
was no chance for prompt justice, for the two accomplices 
were already far out of reach in the wilderness, and Turcot, 
his confession surprised from him, took instant flight 
with hate in his heart of course for Cavelier de La Salle. 
But the young explorer felt compelled to appear., on the eve 
of the day set for departure, before a notary to cleanse 
his conscience, he said, before setting out toward what well 
might be his death. Burning with impatience to be gone. 


his head filled with thoughts of his Beautiful River, he 
forced himself to stand and testify with slow whereases to a 
chill and loathsome story. 

On July 6 the condemned men were duly shriven and 
executed and the canoes departed, Galinee taking at last 
as his interpreter a Dutchman who knew Iroquois but no 
French. On that very day Cavelier de La Salle made over 
a last hit of land to Messieurs Le Ber and Le Moyne, 
merchants of Villemarie, for 660 livres; and, curiously 
enough, three days after the expedition had started he 
seems to have been still in Villemarie giving receipts for 
sums collected, signing papers, adjusting his too incon- 
siderable affairs. 

But at last he was on his way. Beyond some indetermi- 
nate leagues of rocks and tumbling rapids, around the 
shoulder of some green island thrusting out of the turbu- 
lent current he overtook his fellows. His Seneca guests 
of the winter before were leading the way in two canoes, 
the white men straggling after. There was Dollier de 
Casson, his powerful black-clad shoulders looming above 
everybody else's. There was Galinee of the mocking 
tongue in his eighty-livre canoe with his precious Dutch- 
man. There were the hired adventurers twenty-one white 
men in all, in seven canoes, when the young explorer 
slipped into place in the ragged file. 

Their route lay up the St. Lawrence. For the first forty 
leagues they were in the water most of the time, dragging 
the canoes, and even in the canoes they were always, in the 
vivid phrase of Galinee, "not a finger's breadth but only 
the thickness of a few sheets of paper from death." At 
the many falls and rapids they loaded canoe and baggage 
on their backs and plodded overland until the navigation 
was good, and then embarked again. The days were full of 


hardships and "the Inns or shelters for the night' 9 were "as 
extraordinary as the vehicles." But there were lyric 
moments in the journey, "for after paddling or portaging 
the entire day you find towards evening the fair earth all 
ready to receive your tired body. When the weather is 
fine, after unloading your canoe you make a fire and go to 
bed without otherwise housing yourself," though "when 
it is wet, it is necessary to go and strip some trees of the 
bark of which you make a cabin to save you from the rain. 
... As to the matter of food, it is such as to cause all the 
books to be burned that cooks have ever made, and them- 
selves to be forced to renounce their art. For one man- 
ages in the woods of Canada to fare well without bread, 
wine, salt, pepper, or any condiments. The ordinary diet 
is Indian corn, called in France Turkey wheat, which is 
ground between two stones and boiled in water; the season- 
ing is with meat or fish if you have any." 

To catch forty or fifty catfish they had only to drop a 
line into any of the rapids. And at Lake St. Francis they 
killed two moose and fared sumptuously. They had there 
in fact more than they could eat, but in their inexperience 
they did not cure the meat properly and it spoiled in the 
midsummer sun. After that they were for a long time on a 
spare diet of corn and water. Not one of them escaped 
illness of one sort or another. But at last on the second of 
August Lake Ontario came in sight like a great sea with 
no land visible but the coast along their birchbark gun- 

Dollier de Casson and Galinee would have been glad 
to make a detour by way of the island of Quinte on the 
north shore to look in on their brothers in the new Sulpitian 
mission there. But it was hardly prudent to quit their 
Seneca guides, for once arrived among the Senecas, the 


most westerly of the five Iroquois nations, the white men 
hoped to obtain some slave from the southward country to 
lead them overland to the Beautiful River in time for them 
to winter with some tribe upon its banks. They kept along 
the south shore of the lake, therefore, for yet six more 
days. Then they landed on a little island while their guides 
went ahead to prepare the Seneca villages on the mainland 
for their coming. Two days they rested on this island, fed 
on new corn and summer squash by a Seneca brave who 
had a sort of country villa there, and then they proceeded 
into a pleasant bay Irondequoit it was and landed on 
the mainland. 

As soon as they had beached their canoes they were 
visited by a number of Indians bringing small presents 
of Indian corn, squash, blackberries, and blueberries, 
which gifts they repaid with knives, awls, needles, and 
glass beads out of the stores they had brought with them. 
Their guides made them wait here till the next day saying 
that "the principal persons would not fail to come in the 
evening with provisions to escort us to the village. And in 
fact the evening was no sooner come than we saw a large 
band of Indians arriving with a number of women loaded 
with provisions who came and camped near us and made 
bread for us of Indian corn and fruits. They would not 
speak there in form of council but told us we were ex- 
pected at the village and that word had been sent through 
all the cabins to assemble all the old men for the council 
which was to be held to learn the reason for our coming." 

It was agreed by the two Sulpitians and Cavelier de La 
Salle, that Dollier with half the men should remain at 
the lake-shore to guard their canoes while La Salle and 
Galinee and the rest of the party should return with the 
Indians to their village. Accordingly at daylight next 


morning this embassy set out ten white men under escort 
of forty or fifty Indians who, in excess of savage courtesy, 
obliged them to rest at the end of every league. Between 
the lake and the Seneca villages lay beautiful broad 
meadows where the grass grew shoulder high. Even the 
woods, where there were any, were so open that one could 
have run through them easily on horseback. The white 
men questioned their guides as to the extent of this open 
country and were told that westward and southward its limit 
was unknown, especially toward the south, where treeless 
meadows were found more than one hundred leagues in 
length and where very good fruits and Indian corn were 
grown. At intervals along the way their escort was swelled 
by bands of Indians come out to meet them with gifts of 
provisions, and their passage interrupted by more and 
more frequent halts to rest. But at last they saw beyond 
a great clearing a palisaded village on the brow of a little 
hill, where there awaited them "a large number of old 
men seated on the grass," one of whom a veteran "who 
could scarcely see and hardly hold himself up, so old was 
he rose, and in very animated tone made us an oration, 
in which he assured us of his joy at our arrival." 

Inside the palisade the largest cabin had been set aside 
for the visitors and a detachment of women detailed to 
attend to their kettles and bring them wood for their fires 
during the night. All during the evening the principal 
persons of the other villages were arriving to attend the 
council. And on the following morning these chiefs and 
principal persons to the number of fifty or sixty, one by 
one entered the cabin of the guests, lighted their pipes from 
the fire in the center and sat down to hear what was wanted* 

And now, awkwardly, the young explorer's understand- 
ing of the Iroquois tongue, which he had found sufficient 


for grasping a general description of a country and its 
landmarks, proved, even as Galinee had predicted, unequal 
to a diplomatic parley. Nor was Galinee's Dutchman with 
his ignorance of French in any better case. Moreover, the 
Jesuit father whom they had expected to find at this village, 
the frontier of Jesuit influence in this direction, and to 
whose good offices the bishop's letter commended them, 
had just left. He must have heard in advance from the 
guides of their coming, must have known how his absence 
would inconvenience them. And yet he had gone to meet 
his brother missionaries in conference at Onondaga, the 
chief of the Iroquois towns. It was very awkward. How- 
ever, they made shift to use as interpreter this Jesuit's 
servant who had remained behind. 

After a day of tedious interchange of presents, each with 
its separate, lengthy "word," and a night of Indian de- 
liberation, La Salle received the promise of the needed 
guide, but the Indians begged that the white men "wait 
till their people came back from trade with the Dutch 
where they had taken their slaves/' Chafing with im- 
patience, the travelers settled themselves to wait. The 
hospitality of the Senecas was boundless. In wooden plat- 
ters caked with old grease "to the thickness of a silver 
crown" the platters having "never been rubbed with any 
other dish-cloth" than the filthy fingers of the Indian 
women these generous hosts served to their guests boiled 
dog in three or four-pound chunks and Indian meal cooked 
in water and then dished up with "two fingers of bear's 
grease or oil of sunflowers or of butternuts" floating on it. 
There was not a child in the village but was eager to bring 
them corn and fruits from the woods. Willing guides led 
La Salle and Galinee to visit a burning spring four leagues 


Day after day went by. But the Seneca traders did not 
return, and the home-keeping Senecas plied Galinee's 
Dutchman with tales of danger southward. They told him 
the people living along the river they sought were an ex- 
tremely wicked people who would discover the white men's 
fires at evening and afterward come in the night and kill 
them with their arrows. Galinee's Dutchman, becoming 
more and more frightened, no longer pushed the business 
of getting a guide. Galinee, resentful of the Jesuit mis- 
sionary's absence exactly when they needed him, hinted 
that "the Indians had been given their cue." After all, 
why should the Jesuits want the Sulpitians to push farther 
into the Southwest than they had gone themselves? 

Even La Salle's spirits were depressed by the mysterious 
undertow setting against them. Seeing the favorable sea- 
son for travel slipping away, he gloomily predicted they 
would be too late now to take shelter with any southward 
tribe and would have to winter in the woods, a contingency, 
declares Galinee, which Monsieur de La Salle regarded 
as certain death. Some of the Seneca traders got back at 
last from the Dutch with brandy. There was a good deal 
of drinking in the village. Several times the relatives of 
the man who had been murdered at Montreal drunkenly 
threatened to crack the heads of the French. A prisoner 
said to be from the country of the Beautiful River was 
brought in one evening, but instead of being given to 
the French as had been promised he was next day bound 
to a stake, tortured, and burned. During this tumultuous 
orgy, La Salle went to the cabin where Galinee was "pray- 
ing to God and very sorrowful" and told him he thought it 
best to withdraw their men and rejoin Dollier at the lake- 

Back at the lake-shore Galinee busied himself with what 


lie called his Jacob's staff. La Sale, who had himself 
some talent and training in surveying might observe and 
be edified or not, just as he chose. "As I had a very fine 
horizon to the north, for no more land is to be found there 
than in the open sea, I took the altitude from behind, which 
is the most accurate way/ 9 The instrument seems to have 
been not the simple cross-staff then in common use by 
navigators, but, since Galinee was able to take the altitude 
"from behind," the newer and somewhat improved "Davis 
Back Staff" having two arcs with movable sights, which 
enabled the observer to have the sun at his back instead of 
in his eyes. Galinee calculated, and noted in his journal, 
that the latitude of this spot on the shore of Irondequoit 
Bay was forty-three degrees, twelve minutes, which "agreed 
pretty well with the latitude I found I had obtained by 
dead reckoning, following the practice of sailors who do 
not fail to get the latitude they are in although they have 
no instrument." 

A passing Indian traveler held out hope that they might 
get a guide at his village, distant five days' journey at the 
western end of Lake Ontario, and offered to conduct them 
there. So they embarked. Passing the mouth of the river 
through which Lake Erie empties into Lake Ontario they 
heard the roar of a great waterfall and felt its force so 
that they could hardly make headway against the current 
although the fall was a good ten leagues away, according 
to the Indians, who declared the water fell from a rock 
higher than the tallest pine-tree and that stags and hinds, 
elks and roebucks attempting to cross the river above it 
were often drawn over the edge and swallowed up in the 
gulf below. The travelers thought it must be one of the 
finest waterfalls in the world and should have liked to 


turn aside to view it, but their anxiety to get a guide to 
the river country made them push on. 

Arrived at the end of the lake they were there kept wait- 
ing in obedience to Indian etiquette while their guide went 
ahead to apprise his village of their coming. Here La 
Salle fell ill of a fever, which Galinee merrily suggests 
was caused by the sight of three rattlesnakes he found in 
his path one day when hunting. After three days of wait- 
ing the Indians came the principal persons and almost 
every one in the village. There was another council, an- 
other exchange of gifts and eloquence, and at last for the 
explorers two slaves for guides a Shawnee for La Salle 
and a Nez Perce for the priests. Both were good hunters 
and well-disposed. They promised their masters that with 
a month and a half of good traveling they could be at the 
river they sought. Everybody's spirits rose at toce. Dol- 
lier de Casson saw himself already arrived upon the Beau- 
tiful River and consecrating the rest of his days to saving 
souls along its banks. 

On their way to the village they were met by the news 
that two Frenchmen had reached there the night before, 
and on arriving found Louis Joliet and a companion, who 
had left Villemarie by the northward route up the Ottawa 
before they themselves had set off southward by the St. 
Lawrence. Joliet was the last person they should have 
expected to meet in the Lake Ontario region. This Joliet, 
son of a working-man of the Lower Town of Quebec, was 
known there for his playing upon the harpsichord on cere- 
monial occasions in the Jesuit church. He was twenty- 
three, two years younger than Robert Cavelier, son of the 
rich merchant of Rouen. By coincidence, he, too, had 
learned the geographer's art from the Jesuit fathers, had 
taken the first vows of the Jesuit priesthood and had then 


laid aside the gown and breviary for woodsman's coat and 
gun* Like La Salle he was on his maiden exploration. In 
his search for the copper mine on Lake Superior he had 
failed. But at Green Bay where he had turned back, he, 
like Jean Nicollet long ago, had heard hints of a Great 
Water westward. He believed it could be reached by help 
of Green Bay Indians. Moreover, his homeward voyage 
might be called a discovery, for his Iroquois guide had 
brought him and his companion down from the familiar 
upper lakes by a way no white man had ever traveled 

Galinee fell upon Joliet's report with swift eagerness. 
He proposed to Dollier that they should abandon the diffi- 
cult southward project and follow the new route northward 
to the old Ottawa country of the upper lakes, because it 
"seemed easier to us and we both knew the Ottawa lan- 
guage." Dollier's fervor for saving souls, diverted once 
at die governor's behest in the direction of La Salle's 
travels, now under spell of Louis Joliet's enthusiasm and 
Galinee's eagerness, readily turned to the Pottawatamies of 
Green Bay. The Jesuits had long been established along 
the upper lakes, and La Salle seems to have hinted that 
two Sulpitian missionaries might not be welcomed there. 
But the two priests had in spirit already turned their backs 
on his Beautiful River. Joliet gave them a full descrip- 
tion of the way into Lake Erie, through the Detroit River, 
and up Lake Huron, and Galinee skillfully jeduced it to 
a marine chart. Joliet told them exactly where he had 
hidden his canoe it would take the place of Galinee's 
which now was nearly worn out. 

La Salle said little but the two priests noticed his dis- 
taste for the new itinerary. They attributed his hostility 
to Bis fever and some homesickness and were hardly sur- 


prised when at last he excused himself from accompanying 
them farther for those very reasons: that he was ill and 
that he thought best to go back to Montreal; he "added 
that he could not make up his mind to winter in woods 
with his men where their lack of skill and experience might 
cause them to die of starvation.' 9 But whatever he said 
with his lips, his private intention surely was as it had 
been all along to proceed in search of his river, though 
that meant certainly wintering in the woods and possibly, 
as he pointed out, starvation. Before leaving Villemarie 
he had talked freely enough about what he meant to do, 
but now he preferred to keep his secrets to himself. 

On the last day of September a mass was said in the 
Indian village "to unite in our Lord" two parties about to 
separate. Dollier de Casson performed the holy ceremony 
at "a little altar prepared with paddles on forked sticks 
and surrounded with sails from our canoes" to screen it 
from Indian eyes* Young Cavelier went through the famil- 
iar ritual for what might be the last time. The old accus- 
tomed syllables, dropped into the limitless forest silences, 
must have waked strange echoes in his fevered ears the 
voice of his father, the devout merchant, murmuring re- 
sponses at his side in the great cathedral in Rouen ; chor- 
isters' songs twisting a frail spiral up through carved 
Gothic arches; the brazen tongue of Georges d'Amboise 
or of the bells of La Fleche. 

Winter came early that year and was unusually severe. 
Mother Marie writing from Quebec on October 21 said 
the ground was already covered with snow and the cold 
so bitter as to freeze the rigging on the ships in harbor. 
The two Sulpitians in winter quarters beside Joliet's 
charted route were breaking their axes chopping frozen 
trees into firewood. And listening to a strange hallooing 


about them In the unpeopled forest, "we heard toward 
the east voices that seemed to us to be of men calling to 
each other* We ran to the river bank to see if it was not 
our men looking for us and at the same time we heard the 
same voices on the south side. We turned our heads in 
that direction but at last were undeceived^ hearing them 
at the same time toward the west which gave us to under- 
stand it was the phenomenon called Arthur's hunt." 

Cavelier de La Salle, with as many of his fourteen men 
as he had been able to persuade not to follow Joliet's home- 
bound caravan for Villemarie, going by trails now undis- 
coverable but plain enough then to his Shawnee guide, 
reached, it seems, that river below the Iroquois called by 
them Ohio,, or Beautiful River, which did, as reputed, flow 
from east to west. And he set out to explore it. He wanted 
of course to follow it to its end, to behold with his own 
eyes that sea into which its waters must empty at last. 
But his men deserted, it is said, to make their way, some 
to the English and Dutch along the Atlantic seaboard, some 
to Montreal. His supplies gave out. At a point where 
the river "fell from a great height into vast marshes at a 
latitude of thirty-seven degrees," perhaps the Louisville 
Rapids he turned back and began to retrace the toilsome 
leagues, "living on herbs and hunting and what was given 
to him by Indians whom he met on the way." 

Some of his men had doubtless returned to Villemarie 
with Joliet the autumn before. The rest straggled back as 
they could during the spring* On their reports of the hor- 
rors of a wilderness winter the gentlemen of St. Sulpice 
gave Dollier de Casson and Galinee up as lost. But that 
hardy and pious pair, journeying down from the Jesuit 
stronghold of Sault Ste. Marie by the old Nipissing-Ot- 
tawa route, themselves arrived in the middle of June to 


be hailed "rather as persons risen from the dead than as 
common men." Galinee, his charts and his journals 
around him, sat down to compose his limpid and acrimoni- 
ous narrative-, heretofore quoted at some length., and to 
draft a map of his travels whereon, though the Michigan 
peninsula is entirely omitted, the quality of the idyl is 
quaintly embalmed in no less than seventy finely writ- 
ten legends: "Falls where there are a great many catfish" 
and "great hunting at this little stream." 

Dollier de Casson busied himself at those writings in 
which was duly to appear this passage relating to their 
journey and the very latest theory of the Indians' river: 
". . . two ecclesiastics set out from Villemarie to visit 
divers Indian nations situated along a great river called by 
the Iroquois, Ohio, and by the Ottawas, Mississippi. Their 
design did not succeed on account of some inconveniences 
very usual in these sorts of enterprises. They learned, 
however, from the advances toward the river that it was 
larger than the River St. Lawrence, that the tribes settled 
along its banks were very numerous and that its ordinary 
course was from East to West. After having closely exam- 
ined the maps which we have of New Sweden, of the Flor- 
idas, of Virginia and Old Mexico, I did not discover any 
river's mouth comparable to the River St. Lawrence. This 
leads us to think that the river of which we speak falls 
into another sea to determine where I leave to the judg- 
ment of the more learned. Nevertheless it is probable it 
waters those countries toward New Spain, which abound in 
gold and silver." 

There is no record of Cavelier de La Salle's return to 
Villemarie. Perrot the voyageur who had come down the 
Ottawa River just ahead of the two Sulpitians says he saw 
him hunting along the Ottawa banks with some Iroquois. 

Lake Ontario from a copy of Galinee's map, 1670, whereon 
every thing appears in reverse: the north shore at the bottom; the 
south shore at the top; the St. Lawrence outlet at the left; and 
the Indian village at the western end of the lake, where La Salle 
parted from the Sulpitians, on the right. 


But the voyageur's testimony appears in a reminiscence 
written many years after this. He could easily have tad 
his dates mixed he had at other times. However, La 
Salle did come back probably in the course of the sum- 
mer, alone with his Shawnee guide, in some patched and 
battered canoe. Walking once more about the broad paths 
which served as streets in Villemarie, he must have been 
treated to those sententious greetings which respectable 
Bomekeeping folk reserve for such returns: "Home to stay 
awhile now, eh? And what is the news from China?" His 
lost seignory by the rapids they had waggishly nicknamed 
La Chine, a title the locality and even the rapids were to 
wear thenceforth. If he drafted any map of his Beautiful 
River or indited any narrative to justify his wanderings, 
no one knows where they are now. 



TALON the intendant of the colony returned from France 
that August full of bustle and schemes: A sea captain of 
Dieppe hopes to find the way to China by Hudson .Bay or 
the Strait of Davis. The copper mine on Lake Superior 
is still to be discovered. And a route by the lakes and 
some unknown river to "the South Sea" meaning the Pa- 
cific "which separates this continent from China." And 
a southward flowing river which would lead toward Mexico 
and the Spaniards* fabled mines of wealth. Galinee's new 
map of the lakes the first attempted since Champlain's 
proves that a post ought to be established on Lake Ontario. 
"I am no courtier/' Talon writes his royal master, "and 
assert not through mere desire to please the king nor with- 
out just reason that this portion of the French monarchy 
will become something grand." Wherefore he looks about 
him and selects men of daring to be the vanguard of his 
teeming hopes. He sends the Sieur de St. Lusson with a 
party including Louis Joliet the wagon-maker's son to take 
possession in the king's name of the upper lake region 
where the Jesuits have long had missions. In another di- 
rection he sends oif one "Monsieur de La Salle who has 
much fire for these enterprises." 

Beyond that fire officially attested with which Cavelier 
de La Salle immediately set off again almost nothing can 
be stated with certainty of his second journey into the West. 
It seems he went again at his own expense. At least the 



Sieur de St. Lusson's voyage was to be paid for with, beaver 
got from the Indians; and on the books of the procureur 
fiscal at Villemarie was now entered an item of 454 livres 
in merchandise issued on credit to Monsieur de La Salle 
"in his sore need and necessity." But how many men and 
canoes he took with him this time or along what route or 
how far he traveled before he was forced to turn back no- 
body really knows. There was no diarist with him now. 
According to an anonymous and somewhat dubious report 
of certain conversations of his own some years later, La 
Salle went this time through Lake Erie and the Detroit 
River up into Lake Huron and then into Lake Michigan, 
down Lake Michigan past Green Bay, where Jean Nicollet 
and Louis Joliet in turn had faced homeward, and landed 
at last on the unknown southward shores. There he made 
his way overland to a westward flowing river the Illinois 
this is thought to be which he explored to a point not now 
capable of proof. Some say he went all the way to its 
mouth, but this is doubtful. 

These journeyings consumed in all upwards of two years. 
And he certainly did not, like St. Lusson, bring back beaver 
to pay for his travels. For when he got back to Villemarie 
and took up his lodgings in the house of Jacques Le Ber 
the merchant, he had not the means to pay that 454 livre 
debt and had to give his note for it. Nor was he able, it 
seems, to announce any great discovery. But perhaps he 
felt repaid for his expenditure and effort by what he had 
learned either in actual exploration or in questioning the 
Indians concerning the lands and rivers beyond the fron- 
tiers which he had touched. 

His, and everybody else's, geographic notions had un- 
dergone some modification since that simpler day when he 
had set off to find the Senecas* Beautiful River, and Dollier 


de Casson had learnedly written that the Senecas 9 Ohio and 
the Ottawas* Great River were one and the same. Since 
La Salle's first setting forth, the Jesuit missionaries of the 
upper lakes, still combining geographic and pious pur- 
poses, had carried the faith down from Lake Superior to 
the Pottawatamies of Green Bay. They reported that a 
few days 9 journey west of them there, a great river, said 
to be more than a league in width, flowed into the South 
so far that savages going to war against their most distant 
enemies had never come to its mouth. Father Allouez, 
paddling up a certain Green Bay river and then crossing 
a marsh, had come to beautiful plains and fields spreading 
as far as the eye could reach and cupping the headwaters 
of a westward river presumably the Wisconsin which 
was said to flow into the Great River, named Messi-Sipi, 
only six days' sail from here. And Father Marquette, plan- 
ning to go in mission among the Illinois next year de- 
clared: "If the savages who promise to make me a canoe 
do not break their word to me we shall explore this river 
as far as we can." This Messi-Sipi had almost certainly 
figured in La Salle's conversations with Indians met in 
the lake country, but whether the Great River really flowed 
west or south and where it emptied, neither he nor any- 
body else knew yet though every cleric still had his 
theory: the Sea of Virginia, the Sea of Florida, the Sea of 

A great deal had happened in the colony while La Salle 
had been gone. At Villemarie, Dollier de Casson, now 
superior of the Sulpitian Seminary, had laid off streets and 
an Upper Town and begun to build a church. The ships 
of that year had brought to Quebec a new governor for the 
colony, Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac, and return- 
ing to France had taken away Messieurs de Courcelles and 


Talon, patrons the one and the other of La Salle' s first and 
second expeditions. By the king's wish Monsieur Talon 
had lingered till the last ship, to give the new governor the 
benefit of his experience in colonial affairs. Count Fron- 
tenac had heartily concurred in Talon's belief in the de- 
sirability of a river route to the seas toward Tartary, China, 
and Japan, and on Talon's advice had at once sent Joliet 
out by the upper lakes to look for it. And as to Monsieur 
de Courcelles 5 project for building a post at Lake Ontario, 
the energetic count awaited nothing but the melting of the 
ice in the rivers to be off to Ontario in person, even as 
Monsieur de Courcelles himself one summer earlier. Per- 
haps Talon's parting suggestions had also contained a 
memorandum of some sort regarding a certain Monsieur 
de La Salle of Villemarie who had a passion for and some 
experience in westward enterprise. 

At all events, during the following spring while the 
canoes and flat-boats were being got ready for the gov- 
ernor's projected Ontario expedition, this Monsieur de La 
Salle received orders from, the governor to set off from 
Villemarie as soon as the river should be open, to pro- 
ceed to Onondaga, the capital, in some sort, of the Iroquois 
nation and, if he then thought best, to the other four Iro- 
quois peoples, there to announce Frontenac's coming to his 
Indian subjects. Naturally Monsieur de La Salle would 
have preferred to this commission of diplomacy one of 
exploration like that given to Joliet, now nine months ab- 
sent in the West. But he was glad of any activity of course. 
So in the month of May he once more embarked in a canoe 
to go up the St. Lawrence to the lakes. 

Going up the St. Lawrence means going down the coun- 
try. The air grew milder day by day and he must have 
felt himself traveling straight into the heart of spring. 


Long ago Cliamplain had traveled this way in this same 
season and set down in his diary the unfolding beauties of 
the Canadian woods. Now, as then, a man shouldering 
his canoe at the rapids saw white and yellow violets bloom- 
ing beside the portage path in the middle of May. Some 
days later and some leagues farther south the wild straw- 
berries blossomed in their turn along the portages, and 
overhead the leaves opened and stretched a thin green film 
against the warming sun. The margin of the lake when 
La Salle came there was frilled with plum trees and cherry 
trees in flower. 

Although he would have liked to journey on and on 
through the wild lush summer, he stopped, of course, 
among the Iroquois towns below Lake Ontario, there pre- 
sented the governor's letters to the Jesuit missionaries and 
met the Iroquois chiefs and old men in council. Since 
that earlier summer when he had so bitterly failed in the 
presence of the scornful Galinee to make himself under- 
stood by the Senecas, he had learned, it seems, no little of 
the Iroquois tongue and the Iroquois temper. But he did 
not sway them easily even now. They were suspicious of 
the intended visit of the governor, Onontio, as they called 
him, fearful of that proposed fort and not to be lightly 
reassured by the promise of a blacksmith and a gunsmith 
to live there and keep their guns and hatchets in order. 
One can only guess at the slow tedium of the uncounted 
days in which he looked around at dark secretive coun- 
tenances half-hidden in the smoke of pipes and pleaded 
for delegates to welcome Onontio on the north lake-shore. 

In the end he succeeded. The governor's ponderous 
fleet making its slow way up the St. Lawrence late in the 
afternoon of July 9 met, coming downstream, two Iroquois 
canoes bearing letters from La Salle which apprised the 


count that the desired delegates "to the number of more 
than two hundred of the most ancient and influential" 
awaited him ahead. La Salle presumably was waiting with 
his dusky cohorts the official record is not explicit on that 
point at Cataraqui Bay when the count's fleet swept 
grandly into port: one hundred and twenty canoes in 
squadron formation and two great flatboats mounted with 
cannon and brightly painted to impress the savages. Pre- 
sumably, too, La Salle was at hand when Frontenac next 
day gave audience to his two hundred most ancient and 
influential Iroquois seated on sailcloth before the guber- 
natorial tent. 

Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac, might appear in 
the bright contemporary annals of Paris a man to whom 
had been given a colonial government to deliver him from 
his wife's imperious temper and, since he was completely 
ruined, to keep him from starving to death. But here in 
the Canadian woods he presented a dazzling figure: fifty- 
two years old, sophisticated, warm in his loves and his 
hates, a man of the courts equally at ease in the wilder- 
ness; an aristocrat with a sure instinct for governing sav- 
ages. He took exactly the right tack with the Iroquois. 
He was generous in his gifts to them, firm and fatherly in 
his utterances indeed he called them his children and him- 
self their father. True they did not promise out of hand 
to send their children to Quebec to be educated as he asked 
Indian women, their orators said, were not like French 
whom they likened to the porcupine "which gets rid of its 
young by putting them to nurse on the sap of a tree as 
soon as they are born." Nevertheless they did not refuse 
Onontio outright. Even Toronteshati, the veriest French- 
hater among them all, visibly relaxed his grimness and be- 
came almost gay in the warmth of Onontio's graciousness. 


The young ambassador who had decoyed the Iroquois 
within the radius of that warmth came in for his share 
of it: in the governor's speeches Cavelier de La Salle was 
commended to the Indians as a man to be trusted. 

While the count charmed the Iroquois elders with his 
oratory, fondled the children and fed them prunes and 
raisins and made gifts to the women when they danced 
for him, his engineers traced out the outlines of the fort; 
the work of clearing was speedily got under way; and 
during the last days of July log palisades were firmly 
planted. This outpost, so far beyond Villemarie, the old 
"head of the country," would make an excellent base for 
exploration of the Indians' river of the West. "The short- 
est and easiest route to this river," Dollier de Casson had 
already written, "is that of Lake Ontario, which would 
be not a> little facilitated by the planting of a colony at 
the entrance of that lake . . ." The fact cannot have es- 
caped Cavelier de La Salle's notice. And if he was at 
this moment in earshot of the new governor he very prob- 
ably talked to him about it, disclosing his own burning 
desire to be the explorer of that far, mysterious river. 

However that may be, at the end of July when the cere- 
monial conferences were all ended, the Indians dismissed, 
and the governor's garish flatboats vanished through the 
Thousand Islands, there remained behind in command of 
the somewhat forlorn garrison and the new little log fort 
not, as might have been logically expected, one of the re- 
tired army officers who had hurried through the spring 
sowing to swell the governor's retinue but, it seems, Ca- 
velier de La Salle, And within a fortnight from one of 
the Iroquois villages south of the lake he was writing his 
new benefactor: 


"One cannot express, Monseigneur, the praises which 
all the Iroquois nations shower on your person. One 
could suspect them at Cataraqui of dissimulation. But 
here they make it well understood that you have en- 
tirely won them. They have made excuse to me for 
the slight value of their presents, saying that they did 
not expect to be received in that manner, and that as 
no one had ever before made them presents approaching 
yours, they had not provided the means of repaying 
them. I believe that you will see them in a little while 
take you their children as recompense for what was 
lacking in their wampum. This proposition which they 
have made me of their own accord shows the idea they 
have of the reception you gave them. . . ." 

The young explorer might well feel sanguine: with the 
Iroquois so magically tamed there had vanished the great- 
est harrier between him and his river the obstacle which, 
since Champlain's day, had barred the French out of the 
Southwest; as commandant of the new Ontario fort he held 
in his own hands the key position to the shortest and easiest 
route to that river; and the award of this commission was, 
besides, proof of Count Frontenac's friendship, earnest 
that his sanction could be won if indeed it had not al- 
ready been for La Salle's great project. 

But friendship with Count Frontenac had other per- 
quisites than the acceptance of his favor and the enjoy- 
ment of encomiums upon him. Cavelier de La Salle, down 
from his post for the winter and lodged in the combina- 
tion store and dwelling of Jacques Le Ber the chief mer- 
chant of Villemarie, found himself obliged to champion 
the new governor against all comers. All Villemarie was 
grumbling at the onerous levies imposed for the Ontario 


junket last summer. And Perrot the local governor flared 
into open rebellion when orders came from Quebec for the 
arrest of certain coureurs de bois by whose illicit trade 
Perrot had been profiting comfortably before Frontenac's 
arrival in the country. Perrot went so far as to fling a 
letter of the governor general's into the face of Frontenac's 
lieutenant of the guard and the lieutenant himself into jail. 
This letter-flinging took place in the house of Jacques Le 
Ber in the presence of that merchant and his lodger Ca- 
velier de La Salle. Le Ber and La Salle both signed the 
statement which Frontenac's outraged lieutenant drew up. 
Perrot, furious, jailed Le Ber and set his soldiers to watch 
La Salle. La Salle climbed out of the house by night and 
fled to Quebec on foot. 

It was not the season for travel: the river was frozen 
over, and the ground lay deep in snow. And Cavelier de 
La Salle, arrived at the little capital, can hardly have en- 
joyed his visit, although it fell in the carnival season and 
he must have been welcome in that small court which Fron- 
tenac gathered in Champlain's ruinous old chateau atop the 
town. Perrot arrived from Montreal on snowshoes in com- 
pany of the Sulpitian Abbe Fenelon who fondly expected 
to make peace between the two governors the good abbe 
had serenely composed the exordium of his Easter sermon 
as they had plodded along. But Frontenac clapped Perrot 
into the chateau planning to entertain him as soon as 
practicable by hanging just outside his window one of the 
coureurs de bois whom Perrot had tried to protect. A 
party of nine or ten young gentlemen, among them Cavelier 
de La Salle, "at play" at the house of the Sieur Bazire 
on Ash Wednesday evening, had their game broken into 
by a note from the imprisoned Perrot to one of their num- 
ber. Altogether a poisonous carnival season. 


La Salle was back in Villemarle for Easter. He and a 
young gentleman of Count Frontenac's guard, along with 
practically all Villemarie, crowded into the fifty- by thirty- 
foot chapel of the Hotel Dieu the new church was hardly 
more than started to hear solemn mass. After the gospel 
the Abbe Fenelon mounted the pulpit and unfolded his 
sermon that same which he had begun during his wintry- 
walk to Quebec and finished there in great bitterness. In 
the fashion of the times, whereby any ecclesiastic could ad- 
minister the rebuke of the pulpit to any erring executive 
from the king down, the Abbe Fenelon now gave the ab- 
sent Frontenac a sound drubbing duly veiled of course 
in. scriptural circumlocution. Cavelier de La Salle near 
the door sprang to his feet and with mute angry gestures 
challenged the curate to stop the preacher. 

People turned and stared. The preacher paled, but hur- 
ried on with his sermon. And when church was over Ville- 
marie rocked with a new scandal: what did he mean by 
it? the young La Salle. Was he crazy? Was he trying 
to curry favor with Frontenac? Much good it might do 
him. Henceforward he would certainly have all Fron- 
tenac* s enemies, now a formidable force, to reckon with. 
If the young man had deliberately set out to make him- 
self unpopular in Canada he could have chosen no better 
way to do it than to behave as he had done throughout 
this wretched winter. 

That summer Louis Joliet got back from his two years' 
absence. It was the season when La Salle was most likely 
to be at Frontenac's log fort at Cataraqui Bay. If he was 
there he may have seen Joliet on his way home before 
any one else did, that is, and before Joliet' s casket, with 
his maps and journals inside, was lost forever in La Chine 
Rapids. But La Salle could have been, instead, at Ville- 


marie that August, or even at Quebec getting ready for the 
journey he was about to make to France, if, that is, he 
had already planned it. But wherever he was and what- 
ever planning, he heard the news: Joliet and the Jesuit 
Father Marquette the summer before had reached a great 
southward flowing river in the West and partly explored 
it. With four men in two bark canoes they had set out 
from Green Bay up the Fox River, made a portage to the 
Wisconsin, floated downstream upon it, and on June 25 
entered the Great River his river, no doubt about that. 
Moreover, Joliet, on the map he drew from memory to 
replace that lost at La Chine, named that river, which the 
Ottawas called Mississippi, the Buade in honor of Count 
Frontenac, its valley La Frontenacie, and the Illinois River, 
which La Salle seems to have been the first to explore, the 
Divine a Parisian nickname for the Countess of Fron- 
tenac and her best friend, toward whose presence and favor 
La Salle was on the very eve of sailing. Altogether it 
must have been a bitter pill. However, Joliet and Father 
Marquette, having encountered neither rapids nor hostile 
tribes along the great river from the mouth of the Wis- 
consin down to the Indian nation called Arkansas, had 
there turned back for fear, Joliet said, of falling into 
the hands of Spaniards! 

They had not after all traced the Great River to its sea. 
That exploration remained to be achieved. Moreover, the 
people who had been calling La Salle visionary need no 
longer smile behind their hands at his following after In- 
dian tales. His river was an actual river, as broad as the 
St. Lawrence in front of Quebec, "ten brasses deep." It 
flowed without rapids or falls between fertile plains and 
forests fruitful in grapes, plums, mulberries, chestnuts, 
pomegranates. Wild cattle grazed the plains, as many 


as four hundred in one herd. "Stags, does and deer are 
almost everywhere. Turkeys strut about on all sides. 
Parrakeets fly in flocks of ten or twelve; and quail rise on 
the prairies at every moment." So soft was the southward 
climate that corn ripened three times a year and there was 
rarely ice or snow. 

From the hour when the bells of Quebec sounded Jolief s 
return the colony rang with noise of the Great River. The 
devout praised God for new dominions to be won for the 
faith. The habitants over their flagons of good Canada 
beer wistfully picturing the broad rich plains which their 
townsman had seen, echoed after him: "A settler would 
not there spend ten years cutting down and burning trees; 
on the very day of his arrival he could put his plow into 
the ground. And, if he had no oxen from France, he could 
use those of this country . . " meaning the wild buffalo. 
The adventurers and such as gather along river-fronts thirst- 
ily conjured a new vision of the old fabulous kingdoms 
of Quivira and Theguayo with their magic mines of gold. 
Would the great river in its lower courses bring the French 
near that eldorado of the Spaniards? The perennial hope 
of finding the way to China blossomed once more. "Why 
should it not lie through that western tributary to the great 
river which the explorers had passed? And where did 
the great river itself empty? Not into the Vermilion Sea 
or the sea by Virginia, it now seemed certain. 

The learned got out the newest map of the king's geog- 
rapher and tried to reason out whether one of those brief 
thin rivers pictured as emptying into the Gulf of Mexico 
through the Spanish Bay of Espiritu Santo could be the 
same as that great Mississippi which the French had partly 
navigated. The names given to the Great River were as 
various as the speculations concerning it. Called Mis- 


sissippi by the Indians, Buade by Joliet, Conception by 
the pious Father Marquette, it took, on the map Joliet got 
ready for Frontenac to send to France, the name of the 
king's minister and became the River Colbert. Joliet's 
homeward route by the Illinois River had been shorter and 
easier than his outbound itinerary: that was the way to go 
to complete the discovery. And the journey could certainly 
be made in vessels larger than canoes. Two such hostile 
personages as the superior of the Jesuits and Count Fron- 
tenac outlined the plan with curious unanimity: a bark 
would have to be built beyond the titan waterfall in Ni- 
agara River. But the other barrier, that strip of dry land 
a "thousand paces" long between the waters of Lake Mich- 
igan and the headwaters of the Illinois through which the 
Jesuit proposed a canal should be cut, Frontenac simply 
ignored, writing Colbert that after Niagara there was no 
other interruption to navigation. 

And now certainly La Salle held excited counsel with 
the governor. If not already in Quebec, he presented him- 
self there with no delay. As, long ago, he had known how 
to win Courcelles with talk of the route to China, so he 
was now inspired to represent his longing to the ambitious, 
impoverished nobleman, in the guise of empire. Certainly 
his fiery enthusiasm easily saw already powerful colonies 
along the banks of the great river, ships plowing its waters. 
And Frontenac, a far-seeing man himself, was ready 
enough to second him. 

By the ships of that autumn Cavelier de La Salle set off 
for France backed by this letter from Count Frontenac to 

"I can but recommend to you, Monseigneur, the Sieur 
de La Salle, on his way to France, a man of verve and 


Intelligence, and the most capable I know here for all 
the enterprises and discoveries which one might wish 
to confide to him, having a very perfect knowledge of 
the state of the country, as will be apparent to you if 
you will be good enough to give him a few minutes* au- 



THE Paris of that day was a dazzling place, Madame de 
Sevigne's Paris: so well policed that she with a party of 
friends having gaily escorted Madame de Maintenon, then 
Scarron, to her home "at the very farthest end of the fau- 
bourg St. Germain . . . quite in the country/ 9 could re- 
turn after midnight merrily by light of flambeaux, entirely 
safe from thieves; so replete with brilliant occasion that 
she could nonchalantly decline to sup with Rochefoucauld 
and hear Moliere read aloud one of his plays, in order 
to stay at home and write letters immortal letters to be 
sure. It was a city satiate with perfections: Perrault's 
great colonnade of the Louvre; Le Brun's bright painted 
Gallery of Apollo; Mignard's decorations at Val de Grace; 
the new-building palaces of Versailles with the gardens of 
Le Notre flowering at their feet; the fables of La Fontaine; 
Bordalue's flaming sermons; the music of Lully; the fetes 
of the king to his newest mistress; the victories of Turenne 
and the Great Conde; the cream of the news printed weekly 
in tiny gazettes and daily rehearsed in the wittiest com- 
panies ever gathered. 

Into this world of multiple and subtle elegancies came 
Robert Cavelier called De La Salle, son of a Rouen mer- 
chant, trained in the cloister and the woods. Of Paris he 
knew exactly as much as could be divined at the age of 
fourteen through the thick walls of a Jesuit house of nov- 
ices. Certainly he must have come armed with letters to 



Madame de Frontenac. She was cousin, and confidante It 
seems, to Madame de Scarron, now merely governess to 
the king's children by Madame de Montespan, but already 
exerting some influence over the king. Madame de Fron- 
tenac might be of great help to a young man with a con- 
suming ambition. 

So he, at whatever cost to his pride, must have presented 
himself, with the rouged and perfumed ladies and the 
brocaded gentlemen bowing on red-heeled shoes in the 
mirrored and tapestried apartments at the Arsenal where 
Madame de Frontenac and Madame d'Outrelaise Les 
Divines held their court. One pictures him lonely and 
shy, silent in the midst of flashing chatter: a bit of gossip 
about the king and his loves Madame de Montespan now 
in her glory or poor Louise de La Valliere cloaking her 
broken heart in the Carmelite robe; a spirited argument of 
the doctrine of divine grace versus free will, as championed 
by the Jansenist gentlemen of Port-Royal and their Jesuit 
foes respectively; the ballet of the newest opera; Tureime's 
recent hurling of the allied armies back across the Rhine; 
the operations of Conde in the Champagne; talk of who 
had been killed and who cited for valor in this week's 
gazette. And was the fad for coffee doomed to pass "like 
the tragedies of Racine" as Madame de Sevigne said? If 
any one took notice of the silent young Canadian it was 
probably only through politeness or pity. His Canada was 
to them an intolerably remote and lonely place; Madame 
de Sevigne, consoling her daughter Madame de Grignan 
that its government had been given to Count Frontenac In- 
stead of to her husband, pointed out that it would have 
been very sad to have to live in so distant a country among 
"people that one would hate to know here." 

It cannot be stated precisely what influences Cavelier 


de La Salle solicited at this time. But assuredly in the 
months that he hung about Paris nursing his secret project 
to explore a river beyond the Canadian wilderness, he must 
often have felt himself, as he was, a very obscure and 
nearly friendless person. At last, however, guided by 
somebody or other's cynically amiable hint, he made to 
Bellinzani, secretary of the marine and so close to Colbert, 
a gift of 8,000 livres borrowed, of course. Promptly 
the door of Colbert's audience chamber swung open and 
he was free to enter. 

This was certainly his most formidable encounter to 
date. Colbert, a man of stern countenance and of slow 
and careful mind, was hardly one to be carried off his feet 
by assault of mere enthusiasm. Although he had formerly 
spurred Talon on to find the route to the South Sea, his 
policy toward projects of discovery, as more recently ex- 
pressed to Frontenac, was against "distant discoveries in 
the interior of the country, so far off that they can never 
be settled by any Frenchmen": Frontenac was even now, 
in deference to this declaration, offering to pull down La 
Salle's log and mud fort on Lake Ontario. However, Col- 
bert did believe that the "greatest drawback to Canada" 
was her harbor frozen against ships for six months every 
year. If the Great River should continue south below the 
Arkansas as now appeared likely, it would empty into the 
Gulf of Mexico and offer precisely that more southerly 
port of entry which Colbert craved. Moreover, Colbert, 
on behalf of his king was now protesting against Spam's 
presumption to a monopoly of Gulf waters. A French 
port in the heretofore Spanish Gulf would have obvious 
strategic possibilities. 

Cavelier de La Salle would be swift to discover and 
employ the arguments most likely to convince the king's 


minister, and having once gained Colbert's ear he would 
not be long in unfolding step by step a far-flung vision of 
ships and forts and colonies strung out along his river. 
He says that Colbert "heard his reasons and considered the 
importance of his plan." But whatever understanding he 
and Colbert verbally reached concerning that hinted plan 
is entirely absent from the documentary fruits of the in- 
terview. La Salle's written petition, drafted presumably 
under Colbert's guidance and certainly carried by his hand 
to the king, contains no mention of a southern sea-port, of 
sailing ships or unbuilt forts or colonies or even of any 
western river. 

In his petition La Salle asked the king for seignorial 
rights to Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario, of which, he ex- 
plained, he had been for some time in command, and in 
return promised to maintain there a garrison as large as 
the one at Villemarie, to repay Count Frontenac's original 
outlay on the fort, to found there both a French and an 
Indian colony, to build a church as soon as there should 
be a hundred settlers and meantime to entertain two 
Recollet friars to perform divine service and administer 
the sacraments. In conclusion he humbly supplicated his 
Majesty to grant him letters of nobility. 

On the sixteenth of May, 1675, at Compiegne, Louis XIV 
issued him two patents: one a seignorial grant to Fort 
Frontenac on the terms outlined in La Salle's petition, and 
the other, more glamorous, wherein "our dear and well- 
beloved Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle" was royally 
commended for "despising the greatest dangers In order to 
extend our name and our empire to the extremity of the 
New World" and was by compensation given the rank 
of esquire and the privilege to bear "such arms as are 
affixed hereunto . . " One pictures the young man 


emerging into sunlight through a doorway flanked by Swiss 
guards in parti-colored uniforms and opening as he walked 
that second paper, to stare at his painted coat of arms, a 
true explorer's device: a black shield imprinted with a 
running greyhound in silver surmounted by an eight-rayed 
golden star, the rose des vents of the compass card. . . . 

He needed large sums of money to fulfill his bargain 
with the king. He turned to his family and they freely lent 
him all he asked for. He sailed from La Rochelle in the 
same ship, it seems, with Laval, the Bishop of the newly 
established See, of Quebec; Duchesneau the new intendant 
going out to fill Talon's post, vacant these three years; Bar- 
rois, Count Frontenac's secretary; and other gentlemen of 

For the new-fledged noble, the Sieur de La Salle, this 
was a very different sailing from that of seven years ago 
more like a flight that other must have been, with the pain- 
ful memory of Brother Ignatius dogging his heels and only 
a pittance left in his pockets after he had paid his passage. 
It is not surprising if now he was in holiday mood and 
thirsted for a bit of gayety to celebrate his good fortune. 
He, with other young gentlemen and officers, found it amus- 
ing to watch the antics of some girls going over to New 
France to find husbands "the king's girls" these annual 
consignments of maidenhood were called in Canada and 
once, by Mother Marie the Ursuline, in a rare moment of 
sarcasm, "mixed goods." The hubbub of youth and high 
spirits with which this lot filled the crowded little ship 
amused the officers and young gentlemen including La 
Salle but annoyed a barefoot Franciscan friar, Father 
Louis Hennepin by name. And he undertook officiously to 
put a stop to it. He said the noise of the dancing on deck 
kept the sailors from getting their sleep and sharply or- 


dered the girls to conduct themselves in a more seemly and 
modest manner. 

The Sieur de La Salle at once took the girls' part. He 
considered the friar was acting like a schoolmaster, and 
told him so, rather angrily pedant was the word he used, 
and the friar found the epithet peculiarly offensive. He 
pounced on it and made much of it he had the gift of 
volubility, this friar. And he must have topped off with 
that oldest retort in name-calling: "I, a pedant! You're 
one yourself ." For the Sieur de La Salle grew suddenly 
pale with rage. One of the gentlemen, Monsieur de Bar- 
rois, who chanced to be standing near, hastily drew the 
fuming friar aside and murmured a hint that La Salle 
really had been a schoolmaster once told him "that he 
(La Salle) had been among the Jesuits and that in effect 
he had been regent of a class among these religious." 

The white-lipped young man turned away on his heel, 
his brief moment of gayety with other young gentlemen ut- 
terly spoiled, a word of painful memory buzzing in his 
ears, while behind him the voice of the too-voluble friar 
went on and on. 

"I replied to the Sieur de Barrois," Father Hennepin 
was to relate, "that I had said it very innocently; that I 
had never known that the Sieur de La Salle had lived in 
that celebrated order; that if I had known it, I should 
without doubt have prevented myself from using the word 
pedant in speaking to him; that I knew that it was an in- 
jurious term; that in effect one expressed by it an ill-pol- 
ished savant, according to the French expression of Mes- 
sieurs of Port-Royal; that thus I should have taken care in 
using the word if I had been better instructed, which I was 
not, of the history of Monsieur de La Salle. * * " 

The incident, however disturbing to La Salle, was not 


permitted to spoil Father Hennepin's pleasure. Through- 
out the crossing he enjoyed himself hugely: the fights with 
ships of Turkey, Tunis, and Algiers in which the French 
vessel came near capture; the battle off Cape Breton be- 
tween swordfish and the whales, their natural enemies; the 
feast of fish taken at forty fathom on the great banks of 
Newfoundland; the great spectacle of fishing fleets gath- 
ered there from all nations. He enjoyed his clerical du- 
ties, too, which were not limited to rebuking boisterous 
girls and taking down upstart nobles: "I performed like- 
wise divine service every day while the weather was calm 
and we sang the itinerary of the clergy translated into 
French verse after the evening prayers. Thus we sweetly 
passed our time aboard till at length we arrived at Quebec, 
the capital city of Canada." 

During La Salle's absence Fort Frontenac had been 
maintained by two former friends of his, Jacques Le Ber, 
the prosperous merchant of Villemarie, and the Sieur 
Bazire, collector of the king's revenues and one of the 
richest men at Quebec. And these two had applied to the 
king for a continuation of their temporary grant. La Salle, 
returning as seignor and sole proprietor of Fort Frontenac, 
might very well expect the personal disappointment of the 
two merchants to chill their welcome of him. But on going 
ashore at Quebec he seems to have been greeted instead 
with extreme cordiality by Bazire and even invited to make 
Bazire's house his home during his stay there. After his 
two months on the Atlantic crowded in a small boat with all 
sorts of people, the comforts of an establishment to which 
a slightly earlier census accords no less than twelve domes- 
tics would be tempting, and La Salle, it appears, accepted. 
Bazire had, besides money and a large establishment, a 
wife Genevieve Macart, whose story was a colonial 


legend. She and her sister and the two little Moyen girls 
had seen their parents killed by the Iroqnois on the lonely 
lie aux Oies; had themselves been carried off to captivity; 
had been brought back at last by the efforts of the famous 
chief La Grande Armee and set down safe but forlorn on 
the river-bank by the old chateau at Villemarie. The vir- 
tuous Mademoiselle Mance had gathered the four little or- 
phan girls under her wing at the Hotel Dieu, leading them 
while young in the paths of piety and as soon as they were 
grown making for each in turn a brilliant match one, in- 
deed, that very wedding which La Salle had witnessed on 
his first arrival in the country, and one, this union of Gene- 
vieve Macart at seventeen, with the prosperous and promi- 
nent Sieur Bazire, twenty-five years her senior. 

A child had been born to Genevieve Bazire in the first 
year of her married life, but it had died in a week's time 
and there had been none since. She had been married 
ten years when the Sieur de La Salle arrived from France 
with his new title, his coat of arms, and seignorial grant 
from the king and was brought home, it appears, by her 
elderly husband as his guest. It is unlikely that this was 
their first meeting. La Salle had been at Quebec during 
carnival time two years earlier and had probably at- 
tended, as she had, every social event of that season, 
and certainly he had been at Bazire's house at that Ash 
Wednesday card party. And now as the Bazires* guest 
he must have shared in their social pleasures, interested 
with them and every other soul in the little capital, in the 
wedding of the moment: Louis Joliet, fur-trader, explorer, 
player upon the harpsichord was just then marrying a little 
nineteen-year-old cousin of Genevieve Bazire. 

But what passed intimately between Genevieve Bazire 
and her husband's guest in the weeks that he seems to have 


spent under her roof cannot be definitely stated- Unfortu- 
nately, there is on that subject but one old paper and it is 
scurrilous and discreditable. Here, and here alone, ap- 
pears the story of the proffered hospitality of Bazire left 
nameless but pointedly identified as the king's revenue col- 
lector, one of the richest men in Quebec and very attached 
to the Jesuits; of La Salle's acceptance; of his very warm 
welcome from his host's wife, described as beautiful and 
devout. It revels in slanderous detail: of how she showed 
toward her guest an increasing warmth, which puzzled and 
made him uneasy; how at last during "a visit of civility 
which he paid her in her chamber one Sunday before 
mass" she tried to get him "to make some advances to 
her," and how when "he pretended not to understand, she 
seized his hand and caught it to her breast"; how he, see- 
ing "only too well that it was necessary to flee or succumb" 
fled; how, during his tempting, the woman's husband 
had been hiding in a closet; how she herself, going then 
to church, "communed without confessing." . . . "It is 
not absolutely impossible that this woman had conceived a 
genuine passion for him," but it was more probable at 
least to a palate addicted to strongly flavored messes that 
the whole had been a plot to disgrace him. 

Omitting all the melodramatic seasonings, some hint of 
truth still remains: the visit in Bazire's home may be as- 
sumed to have occurred; and there is no reason to doubt 
La Salle's indulgence there in a momentary dalliance 
like his brief delight in the girls' dancing on shipboard 
and, finally, his abrupt termination of the interlude by 
flight. But was it from her that he fled or from himself? 
Did he recoil in horror from her wickedness as from rattle- 
snakes found in his path when hunting, or did some unsus- 
pected surge of desire in his own blood send him flying 
back to his appointed task with austere and burning zeal? 



LA SALLE flung himself Into his task with the obvious in- 
tent not merely to fulfill the king's stipulations but to sur- 
pass them on every count. He paid over to Bazire as the 
king's agent the 10,000 livres Frontenac had spent in build- 
ing the log fort at Cataraqui. Bazire presented a bill for 
his own and Le Ber's maintenance of the fort during La 
Salle's absence, and 9,000 livres went to pay that. Ropes 
and sails and anchors for the barks he intended to build, 
brought from La Rochelle, had cost 1,700. He bought 
three canoes from Huron Indians for forty-eight livres, 
but the three he got from the Jesuits' commissary cost him 
135. He hired soldiers for his garrison and workmen of 
all sorts common laborers, masons, carpenters, black- 
smiths, a cabinet maker, a cooper, a tailor, a baker at 
wages ranging from 150 to 350 livres a year. For Moyse 
Hillaret, a ship carpenter whom he wanted to hire, he had 
to pay an accumulation of debts in Quebec amounting to 
1,200 livres and similarly 1,800 at Villemarie for La 
Rousseliere, a surgeon-adventurer, comrade of La Salle's 
first journey. At Villemarie the gentlemen of St. Sulpice 
charged him 600 livres for a hundred and fifty bushels 
of wheat and he had to rent a building there to store such 
supplies in. Everybody said his ship tackle was too heavy 
for the fragile canoes and prophesied he could never get 
it beyond Villemarie. But he did at the ruinous rate of 
twelve livres the hundredweight. He even had cattle driven 



lowing up through the pathless woods all the way from 
Villemarie to his fort. 

Arrived at Cataraqui Bay, he demolished entirely the 
earthwork and log defenses Frontenac had hastily thrown 
up and laid out a regular bastioned fort three hundred and 
sixty fathoms in circumference although not obliged by 
his contract to do so and set his masons to building thick 
ramparts out of the freestone which he found along the 
lakeshore, naturally polished by shock of the water. He 
had his carpenters go to work on a building project which 
included a barracks, a barn, a granary, and houses for 
colonists. His laborers cleared the surrounding acres for 
planting. And by Cataraqui Bay, so deep and wide and 
ready to shelter a little navy, the keel of the bark Fron- 
tenac was laid down, under direction, supposedly, of the 
master ship carpenter Moyse Hillaret. 

It was a beautiful country, the climate much milder than 
that of Canada. Broad meadows, as fair as any in France 
for pasturing cattle, lay at the end of the basin. The 
lake was fringed with wild apple trees, and chestnuts and 
mulberries and cherries and plums, not to mention hard- 
woods for building. Fishing was good in the lake and the 
woods were full of game. Indians were continually bring- 
ing venison and wild turkeys. They brought, too, in 
trade for the knives and awls and hatchets in the store- 
house, skins of elk, bears, otters, martens, lynxes, roebucks, 
harts. The Iroquois had formerly carried all their pelts 
to the Dutch and English. But the king's patent accorded 
to La Salle and the settlers on his lands the trade of the 
Ontario region. The profits were incredible. At one 
pint of brandy given in trade for one beaver skin, reckon- 
ing four pints to the tankard and one hundred tankards to 
the hogshead, ten hogsheads should bring in four thou- 


sand beaver skins at four livres apiece, or 16,000 livres 
on an investment of 1,000, or 15,000 livres profit. Blue 
Poitou serge, bought in France for two livres an ell, brought 
six here, and the stuff called Iroquois cloth, bought at 
two livres ten sous, sold for eight livres. "With 20,000 
livres properly laid out one can make 20,000 ecus of 

The king and Frontenac wanted the Indians made over 
into good French subjects. Their despatches were full 
of it. La Salle himself believed the Iroquois had been 
maligned. He was sure they were not so bloodthirsty 
as represented and he set himself to live with them on 
terms of neighborliness and trust. His methods were sur- 
prisingly successful. He got his savage neighbors to help 
in the work of clearing his lands and building his houses. 
The newest recruit of the tiny new Recollet mission, who, 
as it happened was none other than Father Louis Hennepin, 
La Salle's quarrelsome shipmate, says he, too, "persuaded 
several of the barbarous Iroquois to cultivate the ground 
and prepare some wood for building us a lodge. Then 
J made them erect a cross of extraordinary height and 
thickness and built a chapel near the lake and settled my- 
self with another of my own order, Father Luke Buisset 
by name." 

When cold weather came and the brink of the lake was 
frozen, La Salle and Father Louis Hennepin set off on the 
ice to visit an Indian village nine leagues away along the 
north shore, where La Salle persuaded a number of the 
Indians to follow him home and settle near him, enough 
to form, as Hennepin euphemistically puts it, "a little vil- 
lage of about forty cottages . . . lying betwixt the fort 
and our mission house. These barbarians turned up the 
ground for the sowing of Indian corn and pot-herbs, of 


which we gave them some for their gardens. "We also 
taught them, contrary to their usual custom of eating, to 
feed upon soup made with vegetables as we did." The 
Iroquois children came daily to the mission house with 
the children of the habitants and learned their letters and 
the Lord's prayer from Father Luke and Father Louis, 
"a la Frangaise" as the king and Frontenac desired. True, 
the good fathers had to "pale in" their kitchen garden to 
keep the little savages out, but that was only to be expected. 

In the remoteness of their situation La Salle the silent 
and Hennepin the chatty were naturally thrown much in 
each other's society. Of the talkative friar La Salle was 
in time to conclude: "He will not hesitate to exaggerate 
everything: it is his character," and "he speaks more in 
conformance to what he wishes than to what he knows." 
And Hennepin of La Salle: "That man was secret to a 
fault." Father Louis, himself a native of Flanders, had a 
declared prejudice against Normans: "I am sensible that 
there are men of honor and probity in Normandy as well 
as elsewhere, but nevertheless it is certain that other nations 
are less sly and intriguing than the inhabitants of that 
province of France." And that, he says, made La Salle 
pretend to have been born in Paris! But at other times 
Hennepin declares La Salle confided in him the true cir- 
cumstances of his youth in the Jesuit order and even 
showed him his letter of dismissal from the Reverend 
Father General at Rome. 

Whether La Salle, questioned about his beginnings, 
answered evasively or frankly, certainly the voluble friar 
knew no reserves. Surely as they plodded along on snow- 
shoes or sat by the flaming hearth at night, he chatted en- 
tertainingly, vivaciously of his own youth: Of how as a 
young priest barefoot in his coarse gray gown, being sent 


to Calais to act the part of mendicant in the time of the 
herring salting, he had seized the chance to consort with 
sailors and other wanderers. "I was passionately in love 
with hearing the relations that masters of ships gave of 
their voyages. Afterward I returned to our convent at 
Biez, by way of Dunkirk: But I used ofttimes to skulk be- 
hind doors of victualing houses,, to hear the seamen give 
an account of their adventures. The smoke of tobacco was 
offensive to me, and created pain in my stomach, while I 
was thus intent upon giving ear to their relations; but for 
all I was very attentive to the accounts they gave of their 
encounters by sea, the perils they had gone through, and 
all the accidents which befell them in their long voyages. 
This occupation was so agreeable to me that I have spent 
whole days and nights at it without eating . . .** 

In short, like a certain long-robed lad wistfully haunt- 
ing the docks at Rouen, he had always thirsted for voyages. 
Soon this oddly assorted pair were reading together by 
the firelight of an evening the travels of Ponce de Leon, 
Narvaez, Christopher Columbus, Hemando de Soto, "the 
better to fit ourselves," says Father Louis, "for the dis- 
covery we intended to make." Did Father Louis read 
aloud, La Salle listening with burning cheeks as long ago 
to other priests* reading of the Jesuit martyrs? It must 
have been now that La Salle got by heart the names of the 
tribes living along the river Espiritu Santo a century and 
a quarter earlier. And he must often have pored over the 
current maps with their teasing omissions and errors. In 
the secret places of his mind the faintly traced, abbre- 
viated river Espiritu Santo of the maps and the broken 
end of Marquette's and Joliet's southward journeying, 
twisted toward each other, strove to meet and weld like 
the halves of a severed snake. Were Espiritu Santo and 


Mississippi two rivers or one? And was the mouth of 
Espiritu Santo as close to Spanish Mexico as the map 
showed it? Ablaze with eagerness he questioned the 
Indians around the fort. Through the old tangle of hear- 
say and fable, glinted a mysterious "Country of Gold/ 9 
says Father Louis; "but," he adds complacently, "'tis 
likely this story was devised by the savages to please Mon- 
sieur de La Salle for he greedily heard any one talk of the 
Mines of Ste. Barbe," No doubt he was often impatient 
to set off on his great quest, but first he had to make Fort 
Frontenac firm and unassailable he had promised Col- 
bert to do so, and, besides, he himself must have regarded 
the outpost as the foundation stone of his enterprise. 

As governor of Fort Frontenac La Salle now and then 
received letters from the Jesuit missionaries stationed south 
of the lake, and visits, too, for they always stopped at the 
new fort in passing up and down the country. And 
always they treated him with extreme politeness, as he 
did them of course. But this politeness hid at the ver> 
least a mutual constraint. Everybody at Fort Frontenac 
believed the missionaries beyond the lake the Blacl 
Robes, as the Indians called them were not pleased t( 
see the growing importance of this rival mission at ther 
door. The Jesuits* Indian policy was the opposite o 
Frontenac's. They had no little skepticism concerning th< 
education of Indians in. the French manner. La Salle be 
lieved that they wanted to found in the North America] 
wilderness perhaps in that very river-valley which hi 
tenaciously, if still secretly, claimed for his own "a ne*v 
Paraguay" after the model which their Portuguese brethrei 
had set up in the South American pampas and forests, ; 
realm where, with white men and their brandy excluded 

Father Marquette's map, on which the Mississippi, named "R. 

de la Conception," is cut off abruptly where Marquette and 

Joliet turned back at the Arkansas nation. 


a little Band of holy fathers led their savage children 
docilely in the road to heaven. 

La Salle, moreover, suffered a subtler misgiving. Be- 
neath the Jesuits' politeness to him personally lay, he could 
he certain, their knowledge of his past* How did they 
really feel toward him? He must have seen himself always 
a renegade in their eyes, must have believed that in what- 
ever he attempted they would wish him to fail, to be 
brought humble and repentant to his knees. If we may 
believe Hennepin, during La Salle's novitiate, the fathers 
had often and often warned him u of the tragic deaths and 
fatal miscarriages that overtook such as had quitted their 
order* * * .** 

One day at Fort Frontenac a poison was put into La 
Salle's salad. He was brought down of an illness which 
but for his robust constitution might have killed him. The 
culprit discovered, a man called Jolycoeur, in terror "con- 
fessed" that he had been prompted by the Jesuits. It was 
only a lie to save his own skin, as would in time be fully 
proved. But at the moment it passed for truth* La Salle, 
after his haunting, shapeless suspicions, in conflict at 
last with stabbing pain, perhaps death, experienced per- 
versely a thrill not unlike joy. "I was almost glad," he 
owns, "to have that index of their ill-will/* And then a 
man recommended to his service by a Jesuit missionary 
drew off six soldiers to desert. La Salle pursued and cap- 
tured them and put the ringleader in irons, like Jolycceur, 
to await trial by Count Frontenac now on his way up to 
quiet certain murmurs of the Irocpiois recently become 

Count Frontenac was hotly partisan, a man given to 
violent physical rages, no sufierer from secret suspicions. 


Arriving now at Fort Frontenac he must have foamed at 
the mouth they say he did when angry as he roared at 
Cavelier de La Salle and Father Luke and Father Louis 
his hot conviction of Jesuit interference. He was just now 
embittered by a two-year-long conflict with Duchesneau the 
intendant over everything, from who should be named 
president of the Sovereign Council, to the blazing issue of 
the sale of brandy to the savages and the whole compli- 
cated business of the fur trade and the writs of permission 
to the coureurs de bois. To Frontenac, Duchesneau was 
the tool of the Jesuits. One of the members of the Sov- 
ereign Council was a Jesuit, "though he does not wear 
their habit." The Jesuits had spies in the governor's very 
household. Their missions were all trading posts, the mis- 
sionaries more concerned with the conversion of beaver 
than of souls. They got enormous revenues from their 
lands and church fees. The bishop was building himself 
a fine palace in the Upper Town at Quebec although the 
governor was housed in a ruin and the bishop's garden 
filled the one place where, at need, one could have placed 
cannon to defend the harbor. Now he was sure the Iro- 
quois were being tampered with by the missionaries be- 
yond the lake on purpose to thwart La Salle. 

It is true the Jesuits had plans for the West no less than 
La Salle. Father Marquette, after his journey with Joliet, 
had gone down among the Illinois where he had been re- 
ceived "like an angel from heaven." He had died on his 
way back to the northward stations, and Father Allouez 
had then gone to plant the Cross in a large Illinois village 
and had established himself in mission there. Frontenac 
seems not to have known of this mission the Relations 
were no longer being printed but he did know that the 
Jesuits* friends, Le Ber and Joliet, had been trying to 


get from the king the concession of tlie Illinois country. 
And he believed that the Jesuits, having formerly looked 
on La Salle as a visionary, now, jealous of his obvious 
achievements at the new fort and cheated of that trade in 
beaver which Count Frontenac was convinced they had 
carried on between the Ottawas of the upper lakes and 
the English at New York, were determined to ruin La Salle 
if they could. 

La Salle, hearing his most secret and distressing mis- 
givings reverberate heartily in an open declaration of war 
against his one-time brothers, must have experienced again 
a mingled joy and pain. Father Louis, certainly, would 
relish the count's robust indignation. Not quite bold 
enough himself to call a Jesuit a Jesuit, the mischievous 
friar was by no means averse to bringing to Frontenac his 
copy of a certain Jesuit's dictionary wherein the French 
word egal was explained in Iroquois: "The Black Robe 
is the equal of Onontio." A bitterly trivial line which the 
governor would certainly report in his next letter to the 

All things considered it seemed best for Cavalier de 
La Salle to get off as quickly as possible to plead his cause 
and his patron's at Versailles. Certainly he had more 
than fulfilled his bargain with the king. He had done 
wonders in this brief two years: The proud stone walls 
were twenty-four feet high where completed; the ditch 
twelve feet deep was dug across the neck of the peninsula; 
the nine little cannon were mounted for defense; there 
were the buildings; the Frontenac and three sister barks 
were floating in the harbor; a thousand arpents of good 
land was cleared; there were cocks and hens and cattle; 
a little village of twelve French families and another of 
a hundred Iroquois were on the way to becoming "one 


town of good Christians and good French," precisely as 
the king desired. 

A few weeks after Count Frontenac's visit to the fort 
which bore his name, La Salle had sailed for France. By 
midwinter he was in Paris, lodged in the modest Rue de la 
Truanderie, But he had lackeys to attend him as was proper, 
and it must have been now that he ordered to be made a 
crimson cloak bordered with gold lace. Certainly he was 
not friendless this time, for he was taken up by the Abbes 
Renaudot and Bernou, both possessed of a lively curiosity 
for foreign lands, impatient of the vast stretches of the 
unknown still on the geographers' globes, precisely the sort 
of men who would seek out and befriend a young explorer. 

The Abbe Renaudot was editor of the Gazette, son of 
that Renaudot who had published the first of those tiny 
sheets ever issued at Paris, so that "the merchant will go 
no more to trade in towns besieged or ruined, or the soldier 
seek employment in countries where there is no war/ 5 The 
Abbe Bernou also wielded a competent pen, sometimes on 
articles for Renaudofs Gazette, sometimes in behalf of 
their new friend, La Salle. He was a very urbane abbe 
who pleasantly blended his ecclesiastical and worldly 
characters, ready, for a friendly service from Renaudot, 
to a pray the good God for you to have a circulation of 
three thousand a week," or to claim of La Salle's far-flung 
river-valley: "It is my diocese." The Abbe Renaudot was 
an intimate of the Prince de Conti, even at one time a 
member of the prince's household, and seems to have lost 
no moment in presenting La Salle to the prince and his 

Even under the protection of the two bustling friendly 
abbes, La Salle suffered from timidity. His natural shy- 
ness had been aggravated by his years in the Canadian 


woods among savages, as he was to confess to the Abbe 
Bemoru He said be knew he was "less polished and com- 
plaisant than the air of Paris demands. I believe indeed 
there is some self-love mixed with It and that, knowing 
how little usage I have of this more civil life, the appre- 
hension I have of making some slip makes me even more 
reserved than I am naturally inclined to be. Thus I 
scarcely expose myself to talk with those with whom I 
might make breaks which I can hardly avoid. The Abbe 
Renaudot knows with how much repugnance I have had 
the honor to appear before Monseigneur de Conti, and that 
it sometimes took me eight days to make up my mind to 
go to an audience, when I had the time to reflect and the 
business was not extremely urgent. . . .** 

Nevertheless, he seems to have made an excellent im- 
pression on the Abbe Renaudot's friends gathered to meet 
him in a series of informal conversations. Unfortunately 
the only record of these conversations is a curious docu- 
ment already twice referred to as apocryphal. And the 
truth about these Paris meetings is as difficult to come at 
in those unreliable pages as that concerning La Salle's first 
journeyings and the private conduct of Genevieve Bazire. 
The author, hiding his identity under the signature, "a 
friend of the Abbe Galinee's," writes his report of La 
Salle's conversations statedly from random notes and 
memory and certainly many months after the alleged con- 
versations since the document incorporates a letter of 
La Sailers dated at Quebec the following" autumn. This 
anonymous reporter, generally believed to be the Abbe 
Renaudot, is a Jansenist and therefore not to be trusted 
on any statement concerning Jesuits. And yet he does 
diffuse some flavor of life missing from more accurate, 
official records. 


One is able to picture a roomful of men, mostly 
courtiers in bright satins and lace frills: the Prince de 
Conti and his friends, and a sprinkling of ecclesiastics in 
sober gowns, gathered about a diffident stranger. The 
young Canadian, though in his own eyes so awkward and 
ill at ease, appears to the company, under the adroit, affec- 
tionate questioning of two clever worldly abbes, as a man 
of talent and marked intelligence, speaking "rarely ex- 
cept when questioned," distinguishing "perfectly between 
that which he knows with certainty and that which he 
knows with some mixture of doubt." They lead him to 
talk first and last of many things: his past travels; the 
cabal and intrigue of Canada; the actions of a certain 
woman at Quebec, perhaps a tool of the Jesuits seeking 
the disgrace of a man who had dared to defy them. To 
the Parisian courtiers no doubt he was most entertaining 
when he talked of the Indians he knew so well: their gam- 
bling games, their social life, their manner of war and 
hunt, their burial customs, their councils. Of course he 
spoke of his great project. And he may have said that 
he was now meeting great difficulty in getting audience 
with Colbert because a certain Jesuit of Canada had told 
Colbert that La Salle was crazy and ought to be locked up 
in the Petites Maisons. But what part of these recorded 
insinuations were really spoken now by La Salle to his 
new friends, and what were added later by the Abbe 
Renaudot, anonymously giving rein to a favorite obses- 
sion, it is, of course, impossible to discover. 

Notwithstanding opposition real or fancied, La Salle 
did penetrate with the Prince de Conti's help, it seems 
to Colbert's presence once more. This time he carried, 
besides his maps and charts, a sample buffalo hide and a 
memorial in the Abbe Bernou's handwriting stating all he 


had achieved at Fort Frontenac. La Salle says he ex- 
plained to the minister was it for the second time? 
what an excellent vantage for making discoveries this fort 
afforded; and that this had been indeed his whole idea 
in building it. He exhibited the buffalo pelt, mentioned 
that the trade in hides and wool of these wild cattle which 
the Spanish call cibola would supply commerce enough to 
support rich and powerful colonies; pointed out that the 
hides were too heavy for transport by canoe; and then 
"petitioned Monsieur Colbert to commission him to go and 
discover the mouth of the great river Mississippi on which 
ships could be built to come to France. 9 ' 

His memorial requested specifically the right to build 
two more posts, one at" Niagara, beyond which he wished 
to build a bark, and a second in the Illinois country, where 
he would build a second bark in which to complete his 
discovery. Colbert in due course brought the memorial to 
the king. By chance there was just now hanging about the 
French court, according to despatches to be transmitted 
this year to Madrid, a certain exiled, discredited Spaniard, 
Penalosa by name, calling himself a count, who was trying 
to interest the French king in a project for the conquest of 
Quivira and Theguayo, the golden lands of the unknown 
West, stating by way of qualification that once while gov- 
ernor of New Mexico he had explored the coveted country 
all the way from Santa Fe to the river MiscMpi Penalosa 
was, or was later to become, the friend of La Salle's friend 
the Abbe Bernou. But La Salle at this time, it seems, did 
not meet the Spaniard. Perhaps he did not even hear of 
him. But Penalosa's tales of the golden West seen during 
his alleged journey to the river he called Mischipi may 
very well have had something to do with the favorable 
mood in which Louis XIV read the young Canadian's peti- 


tion. However that may be, the king on May 12, 1678, 
Issued letters patent to "our dear and well-beloved Robert 
Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle," giving him the right to build 
whatever forts he wished and, during a period limited to 
five years, to "labor at the discovery of the western part of 
New France . . . through which apparently may be found 
a road to Mexico." The explorer had asked for no money 
and none was proffered him though the green baize of the 
gaming tables in the king's apartments at Versailles were 
littered every day with a thousand golden louis. Indeed, 
the insatiable Bellinzani, his appetite whetted by that 
former little gratuity of 8,000 livres, took a thumping 
tribute as the royal patent passed from his hands to La 


However, the explorer's prospects were now excellent. 
The letters patent secured to him and his "associates" a 
monopoly in buffalo skins and other pelts in the countries 
which he should discover, providing only that they should 
not encroach on the established fur trade of the upper 
lake region. He found any number of people who were 
willing to back him, and he evidently did not quibble 
about terms judging from his transaction with the Abbe 
Bernou as later reported by that gentleman to Renaudot: 

"On his proposition of his designs, of which he con- 
ceived magnificent hopes ... I offered him my small 
help which he accepted; but to establish a cerium quid, he 
never wished to explain himself, and having forced me to 
speak, he accepted from the first word the terms I men- 
tioned, although I told him it seemed too much, and that 
I had said it only to oblige him to talk. But he treated it 
as a trifle and left it there." 

Whereupon, it appears, the Abbe Bernou furnished 
three thousand-weight of powder, counting on a return of 


2,000 ecus from it. Another friend acquired,, besides a 
share in the profits of the fur trade, mining rights in the 
new country under an agreement which was to hold for 
ten years. A kinsman of La Salle's at Paris furnished 
11,483 livres in merchandise on which he expected a profit 
of forty per cent. Loosely grouped under the name of 
"associates," a notary, a lawyer, and other gentlemen of 
Paris, merchants of Rouen and La Rochelle, and again 
the Cavelier family, all were ready to back the explorer 
in the expectation of course of a good round return on 
their money. 

Two young gentlemen had applied to La Salle to join 
his expedition. La Motte de Lussiere, of a noble French 
family, offered to stake his services and a matter of 1,374 
livres on the venture. The other, an Italian, Henri de 
Tonty, son of the inventor of Tontine insurance, was a 
soldier temporarily out of employment. This young Tonty 
had lost a hand in the wars and must wear an iron or 
silver substitute in a glove, a fact which occasioned some 
qualms of misgiving to the stalwart La Salle with his hard 
schooling in a wilderness life. However, Henri de Tonty 
had been introduced, by the Abbe Renaudot and the Prince 
de Conti, and La Salle did not wish to appear ungrateful 
to them. He accepted both young gentlemen to be his lieu- 
tenants in adventure. 

He bought rigging and anchors for the two barks he 
was going to build for his great voyage, and goods for 
Indian trading. He hired artisans and ship carpenters, 
till at last his company numbered thirty. La Motte went 
ahead to La Rochelle to have the direction of these men 
and to pay their expenses as they assembled there, and to 
attend to embarking the equipment. La Salle finished his 
business at Paris, paid his last visits of courtesy one, 


notably on behalf of the Count and Countess of Frontenac 
to the head of the Sulpitian order and, according to our 
highly colored Jansenist document, galloped into La 
Rochelle at the very hour of sailing with barely time to 
fling himself from his horse and go on board. But the 
young Italian, Henri de Tonty, who arrived at La Rochelle 
last of all, paints a quieter picture: "I found there Mon- 
sieur de La Salle occupied with preparations for his em- 
barkation. He received me with his usual civility and we 
set sail in a vessel of two hundred tons, named the St- 



FATHER Louis HENNEPIN, having been now two and a half 
years at Fort Frontenac, made the long journey by canoe 
down the St. Lawrence to Quebec to be at hand as the ships 
of the summer should come In. "While he was waiting there 
he made a retreat in the Recollet monastery of St. Mary 
to prepare and sanctify himself for what he now called 
"our discovery." On a day toward the middle of Sep- 
tember the St. Honore after two months on the Atlantic 
with a tempest five days long, and a near shipwreck or so 
coming upriver, dropped her anchor in front of Quebec. 
Consider Father Louis 9 excitement as his sandaled feet 
went pattering down the steep rocky path to the Lower 
Town, his coarse gray gown fluttering out behind. What 
if the Sieur de La Salle had not brought him the permis- 
sion of his superiors to go along on "our discovery" after 

The Sieur de La Salle came ashore. Yes, he had brought 
Father Louis his coveted letters of permission. He had 
brought, besides, a great party of gentlemen and artisans, 
thirty in all, and a whole shipload of equipment which the 
sailors now unloading the hold of the St. Honore, dumped 
out on the strand among the rest, anchors, cordage, baled 
sailcloth for a little ship soon to be built beyond the falls 
of Niagara for the great westward journey. 

During the next few days, Father Louis was in a trans- 
port of elation. "It was agreed," he boasts, "that I should 



go off first that my departure might oblige the rest to 
expedite their affairs with speed.' 9 He was as pleased as 
a child with his new little "portable chapel all complete 
for myself* and with an invitation to dinner from the 
governor and the compliments on his courage which the 
courtly count was pleased to make him "while we were 
set at table." At last he embarked from the Lower Town 
with two boatmen in "a little canoe made of barks of birch- 
trees, carrying nothing along with me save my portable 
chapel, one blanket and a mat of rushes which was to 
serve me for bed and quilt . . ." 

La Salle's departure could by no means be so simple 
or so prompt His stay in Quebec was prolonged by an 
illness of five weeks and complicated by innumerable 
cares. His brother, the Abbe Jean Cavelier, in Quebec 
just then to press a lawsuit before the Sovereign Council, 
no doubt hectored him a good deal. The Abbe Jean was 
bitterly opposed to his project of discovery* The whole 
Cavelier family had invested in Fort Frontenac money 
which might be imperiled if La Salle left his post to 
range the western wilderness. The young man was in line 
to make 25,000 livres a year at Fort Frontenac. "Why 
could he not be content? In the pattern of present cir- 
cumstance there was a similarity to a certain earlier situa- 
tion which the Abbe Jean had by no means forgotten. And 
he, with elder-brotherly logic, argued therefrom a like 
conclusion: this rash voyage to find where the Indians* 
river emptied would end like the disastrous search for 
the route to China and this time it would ruin, not La Salle 
alone, but the whole Cavelier family. 

When La Salle was able to be up, he was drawn into 
attending at the chateau a conference on the sale of brandy 
to Indians, a question now in hot dispute between Count 


Frontenac and the bishop's party. La Salle believed the 
laity and not ecclesiastics should decide what was best for 
trade, and he declared for the regulation of the sale rather 
than its prohibition. Now that he was up and about he 
had a great deal of business to transact for his coming ex- 
pedition, among the rest, the negotiation of a loan of more 
than 13,000 livres from Count Frontenac. One wonders 
if, during these busy days. La Salle ever met Genevieve 
Bazire. It was a very small town. He almost certainly 
did maybe on a Thursday afternoon as she came out of 
the cathedral after a meeting of the Holy Family. She 
might have loved him now without sin: the elderly Charles 
Bazire had died the winter before. If they did meet, per- 
haps her eyes shadowed by her widow's veil lifted to his 
in soft appeal. No doubt he paused to murmur some word 
of condolence but surely no more. A year from now she 
would be married to some one else. But even if he could 
have known that, It would have made no difference. No 
woman had power to move him now. He was wholly ab- 
sorbed in his great project. 

"On the day of St. Simon and St. Jude" he sent La 
Motte de Lussiere with the men and part of the supplies 
off to Niagara to begin building a fort there, keeping back 
to follow with himself Henri de Tonty, for whom he had 
already conceived a deep regard. At last came the canoe 
which he had on arrival despatched to Fort Frontenac for 
news, and he was able to make up his accounts and letters 
to send by what must have been the last ship of the year 
the ships rarely lingered past All Saints* Day for fear 
of being trapped by Ice in the river. In one of these 
letters to, it seems, the Abbe Renaudot he mingles 
curiously his attachment to his new friend; his impatient 


straining to overleap all obstacles and rush on to his goal; 
and his obsessing fear of frustration by the Jesuits: 

"Monsieur de Tonty has all along behaved toward me 
in a manner so true that I cannot sufficiently express to 
you my joy in having him; he could not be other, Mon- 
sieur, coming from your hand. . . . His sincerity and 
his good nature are well enough known to you ; but per- 
haps you would not have believed him ready to do 
things for which a strong constitution, a knowledge of 
the country, and a free use of two arms seem absolutely 
necessary. However, his vigor and his address make up 
for everything, and he is setting off, in a season in which 
the ice makes everybody afraid, to go to command a new 
fort, which is more than two hundred leagues from here, 
and to which I have taken the liberty of giving the name 
of ContL It is situated near the grand fall, one hundred 
and twenty fathoms in height, by which the upper lakes 
fling themselves into Lake Frontenac (Ontario). From 
there, there are five hundred leagues of navigation to 
the place where we shall commence Fort Dauphin, 
whence we have only to descend the great river of the 
Bay of St. Esprit to arrive at the Gulf of Mexico. . . . 
I hope to have the honor of sending you a more detailed 
account of this enterprise when it shall have had the 
success which I hope for it. ... But I have need of a 
strong protection in order to sustain it. It disturbs the 
commerce of certain people who will scarcely tolerate 
it They hoped to make of that region a new Paraguay 
and the way which I bar to them facilitated an advan- 
tageous correspondence with Mexico. This barrier will 
infallibly mortify them, and you know how they act 
toward those who resist them. . . ." 


November was well advanced when the two friends left 
Quebec. They made a journey of eleven days upon the 
river to arrive at Villemarie. There they spent almost a 
week attending to financial matters,, attempting further, 
perhaps, to appease the fuming Abbe Jean, and equipping 
their canoe. Then during three weeks of freezing Decem- 
ber weather on the upper St. Lawrence, Henri de Tonty 
received his initiation in canoes and rapids and portages; 
in those curious "rackets 9 ' which Canadians had learned 
from Indians to tie on their shoes for travel across snow; 
and in the chill bivouacs under darkening spruces where 
the snow must be cleared away with shovels before a fire 
could be lit. 

At Fort Frontenac they found that La Mofte had left 
for Niagara or Conti almost a month earlier, in a little 
ten-ton bark belonging to the fort, taking Father Louis 
and sixteen men and as much of the equipment as he had 
room for. On Christmas Eve La Salle and Tonty with 
twelve men in a twenty-ton bark crammed with supplies 
set out to follow. La Salle ordered the pilot to coast along 
the south shore, but the pilot kept to the north instead; 
and in the night, according to Tonty, they were all but 
wrecked on a reef opposite the island of Quinte. "And 
as we were about to sink, the sea being very high, Mon- 
sieur de La Salle awoke and seeing the danger managed 
to save the ship." The wind changed and they made the 
south shore in safety where they put in to Irondequoit Bay 
to let La Salle go off in a canoe up the river leading to 
the Seneca villages to try to put the Senecas in good accord 
with his undertaking. There he just missed La Motte and 
Father Louis Hennepin and some of their men who had 
come to overland from Niagara with similar diplomatic 
intent. They had spent several days here discoursing 


not too effectively, it appears of "the great wooden 
canoe" which would bring the Indians cheaper goods and 
of the French gunsmith and blacksmith who would settle 
at the Niagara fort to mend their guns and hatchets. 

La Salle arriving after they were gone seconded their 
diplomacy with his own more successful it seems; re- 
turned by canoe to his bark waiting at the mouth of the 
river, and resumed his journey westward, coasting along 
the south shore of the lake. Some nine leagues from the 
mouth of Niagara River the wind failed him and in his 
impatience he decided to leave the bark and push on by 
land. He instructed the pilot carefully: if he got a north- 
west wind to make Niagara River, if a southwest, to put 
back to the river of the Senecas. Then La Salle and Tonty 
and, it seems, most of the men, landed, strapped on their 
snowshoes and plodded off. They came at evening to the 
mouth of Niagara River and hallooed to some Indians in 
a tiny fishing village on the other side. The Indians pad- 
dled over in canoes, ferried them across, and gave them 
for supper sagamite with white fish which Henri de Tonty, 
lately accustomed to the delicacies of Paris, found insipid 
and even strange. Nevertheless, this staunch youth con- 
cluded, "there was nothing to do but give up bread and 
wine and salt and pepper. . . ." 

The hospitality of the Indian fisherf oik cannot have been 
limited to supper; the white men were surely welcome to 
sleep in the bark lodges. But La Salle was too impatient 
or too familiar with the fleas and lice and smoke infest- 
ing Indian cabins to consider it. And so about midnight 
they set off again by light of the moon. Some two leagues 
upriver they came to the cabin La Motte's men had con- 
trived to build by dint of pouring boiling water on the 
frozen ground so that they might pound in the stakes. A 


little way off across the moonlit snow stood the half-built 
chapel of bark which Father Louis had commenced. In 
a deep gully close by, secure from the ice they could 
hear crashing down-river from the great falls, lay beached 
the little ten-ton boat in which the advance party had 

Next morning La Salle set off to choose a site for his 
shipyard above the falls. It is his first recorded visit to 
the great fall and its vicinity. But the sureness of his 
movements and his measures now suggests that he had 
been here before he could have been on any one or all 
of four occasions: going and returning on the journey he 
had made to the Ohio after parting from Galinee and 
Dollier de Cassou and similarly on that two-year-long 
canoe voyage through the lakes, which Talon had spon- 
sored. However that may be, he must now have paused in 
passing to pay his tribute, even as Father Louis and Henri 
de Tonty, in their turn, beholding the wonder for the first 
time. "I can say it is the most beautiful fall in the world/ 9 
young Tonty declares. "As well as we could judge the 
water has a perpendicular fall of five hundred feet and is 
about two hundred fathoms in breadth. The rising vapor 
can be seen for sixteen leagues and when the weather is 
calm the roar of the fall can be heard at the same distance. 
When once the swans and bustards are caught in the cur- 
rent it is impossible for them to take wing and they are 
dead before reaching the foot of the fall. 9 * 

Some two leagues above the falls La Salle found a little 
creek Cayuga in the mouth of which a shipyard would 
be sufficiently sheltered, and he sent back to the cabin for 
men to begin building the stocks at once. But some one, an 
Indian or one of the sailors he had left in his sailing vessel 
out on the lake, came hurrying to him with news that his 


vessel was wrecked. The disobedient pilot with his five 
sailors had left her while they went ashore to sleep, a squall 
had blown up in the night, she had dragged her anchor 
and been cast ashore, and all the stores in Jher hold had 
wasted in the lake the food he had brought to provision 
the shipbuilders; the anchors and sails and tackle; the 
arms and ammunition; the canoes; the goods to trade with 
the Indians for corn for themselves and furs for La Salle's 
creditors. On this news La Salle put Tonty in command 
at Niagara and hurried back to the lake-shore to see what 
he could salvage. 

He must have been gone a week at least when the Niagara 
party heard his voice across the river hallooing probably, 
for some one to ferry him over to the cabin. He had been 
able to save a bit of ship tackle, he reported, and nothing 
more. Nevertheless two days later at the site already 
chosen he put the carpenters to work at building a dock 
for the ship intended, Father Louis joyfully mentions, for 
"our voyage*" As soon as the keel and some other pieces 
were ready, La Salle invited Father Louis to drive in the 
first peg, which honor the barefoot friar, from the modesty 
of his profession, he says, declined. So La Salle drove it 
himself, gilding that ordinary peg with the promise of ten 
golden louis to hearten Moyse Hillaret, the master car- 
penter and his men. 

This ship had for La Salle a curious, special significance 
which those lie had built before at Fort Frontenac had 
never had. He meant to name her for that fabulous animal 
which, on the arms of Count Frontenac, stood as supporter 
at each side of the shield, that imaginary creature of 
heraldry, half lion and half eagle, the griffin. That was 
the name he had ready for his ship: the Griffin. Once her 
sails were spread he believed he could fly clear of dark 


intrigue and hindrance. "Monsieur de La Salle used to 
say of this ship while yet upon the stocks, 5 * reports Father 
Louis slyly, "that he would make the griffin fly above the 
crows" that is, the black-robed Jesuits. 

The building of his cherished craft lay with a motley 
inob: "some Flemings, some Italians, some Normans". 
The loss of the supply boat meant a shortage of food. 
That affected everybody's spirits. La - Salle could count 
on Tonty as upon his own right hand. But his other lieu- 
tenant, the young French gentleman, La Motte de Lussiere, 
absent just now on an errand to Lake St. Francis where 
he must have gone to get out pitch inspired no such con- 
fidence. Under date of January 27, in a note addressed 
"Monsieur de La Motte, Pot o' Pitch, Lake St. Francis" 
La Salle besought that young man with almost passionate 
earnestness to be constant to their agreed purpose and to 
treat the restlessness of the men with firmness; and, sign- 
ing himself "With all possible esteem, De La Salle," added 
in a harassed postscript: "I beg you to have the new hatchet 
taken care of and to give some pitch to the bearers." 

Next in rank to Tonty and La Motte was the ship car- 
penter Moyse Hillaret, or Master Moyse, whose debts La 
Salle had paid at Quebec and whom, La Salle says, he often 
favored with a share of his own dinner. Then there were 
the blacksmith, nicknamed "La Forge," and the wayward 
Pilot Luke by whose carelessness or treachery the supply 
ship had been wrecked, and Anthony Brossard, a soldier of 
the garrison of Fort Frontenac, who knew the Iroquois 
tongue, a mixed company of thirty-odd, with two Indian 
hunters of the Wolf tribe of New England, to feed them, 
and Father Louis the Flemish friar to cheer and scold and 
confess them and preach to them on Sundays in the bark 


chapel and to Tonty's Irritation scribble their daily 
doings in his diary. 

The need of supplies made communication with Fort 
Frontenac imperative- La Salle, evidently not daring to 
launch in the teeth of hurtling January ice-chunks the little 
boat La Motte had beached in the gully, undertook the 
eighty-league journey across country. He left a week after 
the keel of the Griffin had been laid. Tonty went with 
him as far as the lake-shore. There at the mouth of the 
river, apparently opposite the Indian fishing village, La 
Salle staked out the new fort to be named Conti, as prom- 
ised in his autumn letter to France. And then, commend- 
ing this charge along with his unbuilt, beloved Griffin to his 
friend, he set off, says Father Louis, "afoot over the snow, 
having no other provisions but a little sack of roasted 
Indian corn which failed him two days before he came to 
the fort. . . . However he got home safely with two men 
and a dog which dragged his baggage over the ice or 
frozen snow." 

La SaUe must often have looked back across the icy 
lake and wondered how things were going with his Griffin. 
It is not likely that Tonty during that difficult spring was 
able often, if ever, to send him word of her. And such 
news as may have reached him can hardly have been re- 
assuring. The Senecas, stirred up, Tonty believed, by 
enemies of La Salle, were by no means in good accord 
with what was going on at Niagara. 

Most of the Seneca men had been away at war or the 
winter hunt when La Salle had left Niagara, but enough 
remained, for all that, to worry the carpenters continually. 
They were always hanging about the docks, and one in- 
solent fellow pretending to be drunk, would have killed 
"La Forge" if the smith hadn't swung a red-hot crowbar 


at him. Once a Seneca woman warned them that thirty 
braves of her nation were coming to burn the thick-ribbed 
ship skeleton in its stocks. The Indians refused to sell 
the intruders corn for money, and the workmen suffered 
from hunger. A seditious fellow who several times tried 
to desert to New York kept the men grumbling all the 
time. Some knave fed poison to Tonty. However, Tonty 
took orvietan, an antidote then in vogue, and did not die; 
Father Louis plied the men with good counsel every holy 
day after divine service; the two Indian hunters brought 
them wild goats to eat; and at last the Griffin's hull was 

To save her from being burned by the Senecas they 
decided to launch her unfinished as she was. So Father 
Louis blessed the naked hull with the rites of the holy 
Roman church, the new brass cannon fired three salutes, the 
churlish workmen, warmed with a glass of brandy apiece, 
sang the Te Deum and yelled "Vive le Rai" and nips of 
brandy were served out to all the Indians gathered near 
to grumble and stare. As soon as the Griffin rode the 
water the men quitted their bark cabins ashore, paddled 
out to her, swung their hammocks under her decks; and 
the carpenters, in some security from Indian mischief, went 
on with their work. 

Whether La Salle at Fort Frontenac knew of the 
Griffin's progress or simply trusted in the reliable Tonty 
to get her built does not appear. But at the melting of the 
ice he got off fifteen of his most expert canoemen with 
goods to the value of 6,000 or 8,000 livres to go ahead 
to the Illinois country to trade there for furs for his 
creditors and corn for the Griffin's party when it should 
follow. Here at Fort Frontenac he was in correspondence 
range of his brother the Abbe Jean and his other Villemarie 


creditors, and they seem now to have hectored him Into 
accepting delay for himself only, that is, never for the 
Griffin. Early in May he sent a brigantine belonging to 
the fort to carry Tonty supplies and orders to proceed to 
the Illinois country as soon as the Griffin should be ready. 

The brigantine which carried Tonty his sailing orders 
did not return promptly to Fort Frontenac. By La Salle's 
own instructions she lingered on her way to gather furs. 
But La Salle, impatient to hear if his Griffin was finished 
and if her sails were westward spread, must have scanned 
the shoreless horizon day after day, watching for the re- 
turning brigantine. At last there came floating into 
Cataraqui Bay, not the sailing vessel, but a little Indian 
canoe. Father Louis Hennepin, barefoot, in his dun-col- 
ored robe, tumbled ashore with two small savage children 
and four baskets of eggs. One imagines La Salle startled, 
anxious lest the brigantine had come to grief, knowing 
little or nothing of his Griffin., fearing everything, firing 
sharp inquiries at the friar, and the latter tossing him care- 
less, garrulous answers spiced with bright detail. 

No, the bark was not wrecked, merely becalmed off 
Quinte, where Father Louis and these two small shipmates 
had abandoned her. She would be along as soon as the 
wind freshened. What a voyage! Fifteen savage women 
aboard, seasick faugh, what a stink; tedious stops along- 
shore to swap brandy for beaver; that everlasting calm 
almost in sight of home; Father Louis' last lap by canoe; 
his childlike landing at Gull Island. See our gulls' eggs? 
four basketfuls. Will they not be relishing in omelets 
and pancakes? But the Griffin, the Griffin y was she fin- 
ished, had she sailed? What of her building? What of 
her building, indeed! Here Father Louis, omitting only 
"what he had suffered from that Italian" because he knew* 


La Salle would tolerate no slurs on Tonty would tell the 
whole story of the Griffin's hardships. 

However, she was finished. He came to that In the end. 
"I left our ship riding upon two anchors within a league 
and a half of Lake Erie in the strait between the said lake 
and the great fall." Why then had Tonty not sailed? 
Tonty had tried to take the Griffin out as ordered- But 
he had been stopped at the entry to Lake Erie by the cur- 
rent over Black Rock Rapids. The pilot, that same unruly 
Luke who had let La Sailers supply boat be wrecked on 
Lake Ontario four months earlier, had refused to urge 
the Griffin over the rapid unless Tonty would sign a paper 
exonerating him in case she should be wrecked. Tonty, 
mistrusting Pilot Luke, thinking he might be in the employ 
of La Salle's enemies, had declined to sign any paper 
without first sending notice to La Salle, as herewith he did 
by hand of Father Louis. 

La Salle, at hint of danger to his Griffin, decided to go 
to her at any cost. At Villemarie bis nervous creditors, 
although Fort Frontenac alone was worth more than twice 
the sum of all he owed, were beginning to attach his effects 
down to and including his clerk's bed. And the Abbe 
Jean was fussily suspicious of that clerk's honesty. La 
Salle adjusted matters as best he could. The command 
of Fort Frontenac he confided to his lieutenant La Forest, 
binding the engagement by a valuable concession of land, 
in the deed to which he for the first time named the river 
valley realm of bis dreams Louisiana, Then he wrote the 
suspected clerk to turn over all the furs in the storehouse at 
Villemarie to his brother the Abbe Jean Cavelier "and 
take a receipt." 

And they all embarked for Niagara: Father Louis with 
two of his brother Recollets, who were to join him for the 


western voyage, and a third, who was to be stationed at 
Niagara, going in the brigantine; La Salle keeping along 
the south shore of the lake in a canoe to make one last try 
at getting the good-will of the Iroquois toward his under- 

He went, it seems, to that same Seneca village, already 
the scene of so many of those tedious conferences for which 
his impatient nature showed curiously such endless 
patience. On arrival he was disturbed to find lodged in 
the chiefs house, like himself, a mysterious embassy from 
the Miamis, a nation lately settled between the Iroquois 
and Illinois, by the offices of the Jesuits, he believed. The 
shadowy ambassadors broke off their parley as soon as La 
Salle appeared in the town and quietly vanished by night. 
But La Salle had seen in their hands letters from the Jesuit 
Father Allouez now withdrawn from the Illinois to the 
Miamis to his brethren of the Iroquois missions. What 
was in those letters? What was the intent of that embassy 
startled into flight by La Salle's arrival? Was there brew- 
ing some alliance between the Miamis and Iroquois against 
the Illinois? Were the Jesuits fostering the intrigue to 
hinder La Salle's advance? 

The old men met in council to hear La Salle. Pipes in 
mouths, once more they turned their listening faces toward 
him. "The senators of Venice/* the irrepressible Father 
Louis had once gleefully noted, "do not appear with graver 
countenances/' But La Salle had no time for bright in- 
consequential detail. It was his business to discover the 
thoughts that moved behind those dark senatorial brows 
and, if tibey were inimical, to bend and shape them to his 
will. He stated his intentions with all the candor of his 
command, explaining particularly that the arms and am- 
munition which he must now carry through the Iroquois 


country were for his own use In the prosecution of his dis- 
covery and not for the Illinois, their enemy* True, he 
said, he was going to make an establishment among the 
Illinois, sow grain In their lands, and there build a second 
bark for the continuation of his voyage. But he did not 
expect to take sides with that nation In any differences they 
might have with his hearers, provided the latter did not 
come to attack the Illinois near the places where he should 
be established, because In that case, he concluded firmly, 
"I should be obliged to defend them." 

La Motte In his January conference had declined to 
treat with the Indians in the presence of two Jesuit mis- 
sionaries. La Salle's tactics now were exactly opposite: 

"I caused to be present at that negotiation two Jesuit 
fathers in order to take from them the means of destroying 
afterward that which I should have furthered and to en- 
feeble more that which might be Invented and circulated 
underhand in my absence." He challenged the Iroquois 
to note that he spoke sincerely "and that if some one after- 
wards wished to give them mistrust of my design, let them 
remember that the reverend father Jesuits confirmed to 
them the sincerity of it. . . ." 

He made the customary gifts and departed in his canoe 
for the lake. After some eight days he overhauled the 
brigantine loitering alongshore for trading, boarded her, 
and they reached Niagara River all together at the end 
of July. Here the carefree Father Louis with a sergeant 
from Fort Frontenac, hurried ahead overland above the 
falls and thence up-river, in a half-rotten canoe found on 
the bank, to where the Griffin rode at anchor within a 
league of the "pleasant Lake Erie." She was a vessel 
of forty-five tons, well-rigged now and ready for sailing. 
She carried five small guns, two of brass and three harque- 


buses a croc. Above her beakhead lifted a flying griffin 
and above the griffin lifted an eagle. Father Louis' im- 
portance swelled at the sight of her. "Having forbid the 
pilot to attempt to sail up the currents of the strait till 
further orders," he boasts, "we returned to Lake 
Ontario. . . *" 

La Salle was able to bring his loaded brigantine up the 
Niagara River to the foot of what Father Louis calls the 
"three mountains/ 9 those triple steeps up which they must 
carry on their backs all the freight they had brought in the 
bark's hold, from Father Louis' sacramental wine to the 
great anchors for the Griffin and her unbuilt sister ship. 
These anchors were so big that it took four men to carry 
one. However, frequent draughts of brandy helped them 
stagger up the steep slopes again and again. Even the 
priests were not exempt: "Father Gabriel though sixty- 
five years old . . . went three times up and down those 
three mountains." But evidently the toilsome portage 
tried their nerves. Father Louis quarreled, he says, with 
Monsieur de La Salle concerning the intrigues of "some 
monks of Canada." Father Louis never liked to declare 
himself on this delicate matter of Jesuit intrigue, and when 
La Salle pressed him too far for his opinion, he became so 
angry he threatened to quit the expedition. Still in that 
humor he turned aside to show the great falls to Father 
Gabriel for whom he had a great affection dating from 
his novitiate when the older man had been his "father 
master." Monsieur de La Salle was so desirous of pre- 
venting Father Louis' desertion, Father Louis says, that he 
hurried after the priestly pair with some refreshments as 
a peace-offering. 

From Niagara Tonty went ahead by canoe with five men 
to the end of Lake Erie to meet such of the fifteen canoemen 


earlier sent forward as might by now Be returning. La 
Salle encamped his people ashore near the entry to Lake 
Erie to wait for a wind strong enough to carry the Griffin 
out over the rapids. He must have been delayed here some 
time, for Father Louis tells of their grubbing up the ground 
and planting pot-herbs for the convenience of later arrivals 
and of his preaching on Sundays from the deck of the 
Griffin to the men along shore. But at last came a north- 
east wind. The Griffin's master crowded on all her canvas, 
put twelve men ashore to tow, and she slowly mounted the 
current Luke the stubborn pilot protesting all the while 
that she would never make it. But she did. When she was 
afloat on the lake at last there was much excitement. It 
was like a second launching. They fired her cannon and 
wallpieces and sang the Te Dewn s stared at now, as when 
she first took the water, by hordes of wondering, not too- 
friendly, Indians on shore. 

La Salle wrote his letters so many people there were 
now to whom he must account for every action: The Abbes 
Renaudot and Bernou, the Prince de Conti, and more be- 
sides. He made up his packet, addressed it in care of his 
brother the Abbe Jean for the autumn ships, commended it 
to the brigantine now ready to sail back to Fort Frontenac. 
He appointed a garrison to remain at the new little Fort 
Conti with a priest to look after their spiritual needs. Then 
he embarked in the Griffin thirty-four men including Father 
Louis and his two RecoUet brethren, the aged Father 
Gabriel de La Ribourde and Father Zenobius Membre, 
destined to divide the journalistic honors of the voyage with 
Father Louis. And they were ready to go* 



ON August 7 the Griffin sailed out over Lake Erie where 
never ship had sailed before. The men had been told by 
the enemies of the expedition, Father Louis says that the 
unknown waters ahead were strewn with dangerous rocks 
and sandbars. But La Salle seems to have paid no atten- 
tion to such rumors. Had he on that canoe voyage of the 
lakes, sounded these waters in anticipation of the Griffin 9 s 
coming? Certainly for years he had been storing informa- 
tion wherever gleaned: from his own travels, from the In- 
dians, from Louis Joliet; from traders whom he himself 
had sent out from Fort Frontenac. Astronomy and what 
he needed of the mariner's art he had gathered in the habit 
of Brother Ignatius long ago at La Fleche. And now 
squinting at the sun through the sights of his astrolabe, 
training his compass on the Pole star, he steered his little 
ship with that blend of caution and confidence which can 
come only out of knowledge. 

He knew, he says, that there were two reefs in Lake Erie : 
"on one of which we should have wrecked had I taken every 
one's advice. It was night and a thick fog hid the shore 
from which we were distant about ten leagues. I heard 
breakers about a league before us. Everybody believed it 
was a certain noise common on these lakes when the wind 
changes, which happens always on the side from which it 
is about to come, and the pilot wished to crowd the sails to 
gain anchorage before we were caught head-on. But as I 


SAILS 107 

knew these reefs went very far out and as I believed my- 
self very near that one which was indeed in front of us, in 
spite of everybody I veered at once and steered northeast 
instead of west-northwest." The sands in his mariner's 
half -hour glass ran ut three times as he crept along, hear- 
ing the same noise. "Each one insisted then that it was the 
wind, and I that it was the reef which formed a circle and 
which surrounded us toward the north from west to east* 
Indeed one half -hour later, we found all at once only three 
fathoms of water. Every man sprang to the ropes and I 
tacked about and bore to the southwest, always sounding 
without finding bottom. Finally when the fog lifted they 
all saw I had been right and that they owed me the obliga- 
tion of having saved them from this danger." 

Tonty and his companions meantime, not meeting any of 
the returning traders at the rendezvous after all, were en- 
camped at the entrance of the Detroit River on a bit of a 
bar with a marsh behind it. Very early in the morning of 
August 10 "the Festival of St. Lawrence" the wind blew 
fresh from the northeast across the lake and dashed waves 
over them, waking them most uncomfortably. As day 
broke, out over the lake they sighted the sails of the Griffin. 
They made three smoking fires to guide her, and, when 
she put in toward them, they ran out to her in a canoe. 

The next day with all aboard, the Griffin sailed in 
through the strait, overcoming a current as strong as the 
tide before Rouen a backward glancing phrase, as though 
a boy in a long soutane guided the hand of the Griffin's 
master writing proudly in his new ship's log. Vast mead- 
ows lay on either bank of the strait, and, farther ofi, hills 
with vineyards and fruit-trees so agreeably disposed that 
it seemed to Father Membre as if in bygone times some 
Roman princes or nobles must have had their country villas 

108 SAILS 

there. They saw stags, does, deer, bears "not at all fierce, 
and very good to eat," waterfowl and swans in abundance. 
The men went hunting alongshore, so that the guyropes and 
the high sides of the Griffin were strung with quartered 
venison, feathered game, drying bearskins. They even har- 
vested the wild grapes and made wine of them. The abun- 
dance so wrought upon Father Louis' volatile spirits that he 
was all for stopping here to found a settlement a proposal 
which he must have reiterated with annoying persistence, 
for La Salle somewhat caustically asked what had become 
of his earlier passion to make a great discovery. 

They passed through a little lake of ineffable stillness 
Lac de la Chaudiere it had been called, but they named it 
Ste. Claire and on up the strait beyond. At the entry to 
Lake Huron where a north wind had been blowing for some 
days the Griffin met a current "as strong as the bore before 
Caudebec" another phrase recalling the lower Seine 
where a certain merchant's son had once watched the ships 
of Rouen come and go. This current the Griffin could 
not stem even with a favorable wind. But here, as at the 
entry to Erie, the shore was fine, and so La Salle put twelve 
men ashore to tow her through. Beyond that hazard they 
sang a second Te Deum of thanksgiving. From the first. 
Father Louis says, they had always knelt on deck at morn- 
ing and evening to say prayers all except the rebellious 
Pilot Luke. 

They entered Lake Huron on August 23 and all that day 
the Griffin scudded before a fresh breeze along the east 
shore, heading north-by-east. That evening the wind 
shifted somewhat violently, and the master brought his ship 
to a northwest course. Late in the following evening he 
was becalmed among some islands in very shallow water. 
Through a part of that night he ran on with shortened sails, 

SAILS 109 

himself always sounding before tils little ship to protect her 
from the negligence of the pilot. Just after midnight of the 
twenty-fifth having doubled a great point jutting out into 
the lake he was caught in a furious gale which forced him 
to tack under foresail and trysail and then lie to till day- 
light. So violent was the wind that day., says Father Louis, 
that "we brought down our mainyards and topmast and let 
the ship drive at the mercy of the wind, knowing no place 
to run into to shelter ourselves. Monsieur de La Salle not- 
withstanding he was a courageous man began to fear, and 
told us we were undone; and therefore everybody fell on 
his knees to say his prayers and prepare himself for death 
except our pilot whom we could never oblige to pray; and 
he did nothing all that while but curse and swear against 
Monsieur de La Salle who, as he said, had brought him 
thither to make him perish In a nasty lake and lose the 
glory he had acquired by long and happy navigation on the 


Prayers were made to St. Anthony of Padua, and La 
Salle promised to that saint the first chapel which should be 
built in that new land of Louisiana he was going to open 
down the valley of his river. The wind dropped then "by 
a kind of miracle," and they lay to. The next day winds 
northwest by southwest changing toward evening to a light 
southeast breeze brought the Griffin into port at Mlchilll- 
mackinac. She sailed into a cove beneath two steep rocky 
bluffs, the He and She Rabbit of Indian tradition, and 
dropped her anchor in six fathoms of water to a good bot- 
tom of potter's clay. The noise of her cannon fired in 
salute shook the Huron and Ottawa towns, the traders 5 
huts and the Jesuit mission ashore. The Indian fishing 
fleets of bark canoes, scattered over tie face of the lake, 
bundled in their nets and came swarming to view the mar- 

110 SAILS 

vel. Father Louis counted above six score, crowding about 
the "great wooden canoe." The chiefs came aboard and 
the savage fishermen showered the guests with whiting and 
"some trout of fifty and sixty pound weight/' 

How the Jesuit missionaries of Michillimackinac wel- 
comed the Griffin does not appear. But when the new- 
comers went ashore in a body to pay a visit of civility to 
the Ottawa town, they attended mass with no little ceremony 
at the mission of St. Ignace, beneath whose floor lay buried 
the bones of Father Marquette. "Monsieur de La Salle 
was finely dressed, having a scarlet cloak with broad gold 
lace and most of his men with their arms attended him," 
says Father Louis. "During the service the Sieur de La 
Salle . . . ordered the arms stacked along the chapel, 
which was covered with bark of trees, and the sergeant left 
a sentry there to guard them." The next day they visited 
the Huron town in its palisades twenty-five feet high, where 
the inhabitants in imitation of European manners honored 
them by a discharge of all the guns in the place. 

Beneath the surface of this ovation La Salle felt in the 
natives a pervasive suspicion of him and his "floating fort." 
The fur-traders were openly hostile. And he was un- 
pleasantly surprised to discover idling about Michilli- 
mackinac, wasting his goods in extravagant living the 
greater number of the fifteen men whom he had sent off 
from Fort Frontenac in the spring and whom he had sup- 
posed long since arrived at the Illinois country. They had 
been stopped here, they now said, by hearing that his enter- 
prise was chimerical, that his ship would never get through 
the lakes, and that he was sending them to certain destruc- 
tion. Six, indeed, had gone off carrying half his goods. 
La Salle felt their treachery keenly particularly that of 
La Rousseliere whose debts he had paid at Montreal and 

SAILS 111 

who seems to have been a sharer in his projects as far back 
as the day when he had first set out to find the way to China. 
This La Rousseliere and another were said to be now at 
Sault Ste. Marie. La Salle sent Tonty with a detachment of 
six men to arrest the pair and seize whatever of the stolen 
goods might be still in their possession. Having appointed 
a rendezvous with Tonty, he weighed anchor, sailed the 
Griffin through the strait into Lake Michigan or the Lake 
of the Illinois or Lake Dauphin as they variously called it 
and after a journey of forty leagues arrived "pretty safely" 
at the island of the Pottawatamies at the mouth of Green 

Here the Griffiths welcome by admiring natives was more 
sincere. The chief of the Pottawatamies was deeply mind- 
ful of courtesies extended by Count Frontenac to him on 
a visit he had paid to Villemarie. "And during a four 
days' storm while our vessel was anchored thirty paces 
from the bay-shore, this Indian chief came to join us in a 
canoe at the risk of his life, and in spite of the swelling 
waves we hoisted him with his canoe into our vessel. He 
told us in a martial tone that he was ready and willing to 
perish with the children of Onontio, the governor of the 
French, his good father and friend/* He conceived now a 
similar admiration for the Sieur de La Salle and forever 
after was to declare he knew but three great captains : Count 
Frontenac, the Sieur de La Salle and himself. Offering 
his esteemed guest the greatest compliment in his gift he 
had his warriors dance the calumet to him a ceremony of 
mixed pleasure to La Salle who saw in the extended hands 
of the dancers several Iroquois scalps and thereupon suf- 
fered new uneasy forebodings of an Indian war in his path. 

At Green Bay he found a few of his advance guard of 
traders, more faithful than the rest, who had gathered for 

112 SAILS 

him pelts to the value of 12,000 livxes. Here was, after 
all y a return cargo for the Griffin as he had hoped, and the 
finest answer in the world to his detractors and timid cred- 
itors if he could get it back to Canada before the ships of 
the autumn got off for France. Up to now he had, it ap- 
pears, intended to sail the Griffin to the end of Lake Michi- 
gan, land his party there, and, leaving Tonty to repeat on 
the Illinois River his Niagara achievement of the winter 
before, himself go back to Niagara for supplies and rein- 
forcements. But Tonty was out looking for the deserters, 
and La Salle dared not leave his unstable followers with- 
out a commander. It was mid-September now and if the 
furs were to reach France this year there was no time to 
lose. After all, the Pilot Luke, though stubborn and can- 
tankerous, was an able navigator with long experience in 
the best vessels of Canada and the Islands. And he had 
only to sail the Griffin back by the way she had come. So 
"the Sieur de La Salle, who never took any one's advice, re- 
solved to send back his bark. . . ." 

He had his pelts loaded aboard his little ship in charge 
of a supercargo and gave the Pilot Luke five good sailors 
to man her. Since he himself must now proceed down the 
length of Lake Michigan in canoes, of which he had only 
four, it was necessary to leave in the Griffin's hold the 
tackle for her unbuilt sister ship and all the heavier part 
of the utensils and tools. These things he ordered Pilot 
Luke to dump off at Michillimackinac to be called for 
again on the return voyage. For the rest the Griffin had 
only to go back through the lakes by the way she had come, 
discharge her furs at the storehouse at Niagara, take on the 
men expected from France and a load of supplies, and 
sail back again to her master. 

He held her up two days two days of beautiful sailing 

SAILS 113 

weather with the most favorable of winds while he got 
ready the letters, accounts, maps and memoirs his friends 
at Paris would expect from, him on the autumn ships. 
These reports "were no doubt the most confident he ever 
wrote. The Griffiths navigation of the lakes was his proud- 
est achievement to date. The speed -with which she had 
overflown the toilsome leagues and set him down in easy- 
reach of his river must have made her seem to him, as to 
the Indians, a creature half miraculous. Even his accounts 
can have been no hardship now, for he felt the weight of 
debt already lifting ; his brother these many weeks had had 
the furs at Villemarie to apportion among La Salle's cred- 
itors there. They surely were satisfied. These pelts going 
by the Griffin would content his friends and creditors at 

On September 18, the Griffin fired a single cannon in 
adieu, spread her canvas before a light, but still favorable 
west wind, and sailed out of Green Bay. 



THE day after the Griffin 9 s sails had glimmered out of sight 
La Salle was again on his way. They were now fourteen 
men in four canoes heavily freighted with a forge and its 
fittings, with carpenters' and pitsawyers* tools, with arms 
and merchandise, with corn and squash from the Pottawata- 
mies, all they could possibly cram into the overloaded 
canoes, and from the same friendly source a calumet, that 
magic passport to southward tribes. They left the island 
in a beautiful calm. Except for the rippled wake un- 
rolling behind them, except for the dip of their paddles, 
they slid through an unbroken hush. But halfway across 
to the western mainland, a raging wind swooped down on 
them. The burdened canoes began to have hard going. 
The smallest, carrying five hundred pounds of freight, was 
manned by Father Louis Hennepin and a carpenter from 
France who knew nothing about managing a canoe. Waves 
broke over the fragile birchbark fleet. Night came on. 
They could keep together only by shouting back and forth 
across the roaring gale. But somehow they all made port 
at last in a little sandy bay where they landed to wait for 
the storm to spend itself. 

The next day it blew with the fury of an ocean tempest. 
La Salle was beset with fear for his Griffin. Had Pilot 
Luke found a sheltering cove for her before the storm 
broke, or was she now trying to ride out this wind? Would 
to God, moaned Father Membre, that the Sieur de La Salle 



had continued his voyage In his vessel, The Indian hunter 
in spite of the gale managed to kill one porcupine to season 
their corn and squashes. But the storm lasted day after 
day and the provisions dwindled. The men began to 
grumble, pining already no doubt for the lost luxury of 
hammocks swung to stout ship's timbers. Mechanics many 
of them two pitsawyers, a blacksmith, several carpenters 
what should they know or care about a grand discovery? 
They wished they had never heard of La Salle and his 
accursed river. 

Nor were they any happier when, after four days, they 
were able to continue their journey. Often La Salle kept 
them paddling all day and a part of the night. Once a 
squall came on and they made a forced landing on a bare 
rock where for two days they bore rain and snow, huddled 
under their blankets around a little fire fed with such drift 
as the waves drove in to them* They said mass there. 
Shivering en this naked rock they watched Father Louis 
don his chasuble he says it was of brocade with tasseled 
red and white girdle; unpack the chalice "which was of 
silver -gilt and cast a glittering light"; and pour it full of 
wine of wild Detroit grapes made aboard the Griffin. A 
wistful ceremony. One wonders how many of them found 
comfort in it. 

"When they had eaten the last of their corn and squash 
and had paddled twelve leagues with nothing at all in their 
stomachs, they sighted an Indian village whose inhabitants 
all came flocking to the lakeshore to meet them, seemingly 
ready to pull them in from the pitching waves and feed 
them from their steaming cook-pots. But La Salle, for 
reasons of strategy and prudence which his unwilling fol- 
lowers were far from guessing, passed on by, heading down 
the lake, and the other canoes were forced to follow. Not 


until three leagues farther on did he put inshore. The 
water was very rough; the shore, steep and forbidding. 
He had to plunge overboard with his men and carry canoes 
and cargo to land, the waves breaking over their heads. 
Father Louis claims to have carried Father Gabriel in on 
his back. After an embassy sent back afoot to the village 
with the calumet, after considerable tedious parley and 
sundry gifts of axes and knives, La Salle in his own camp 
accepted from the Indians more friendly Pottawatamies 
they proved to be a feast and corn to restock his canoes. 

They set out again. The autumn winds blew high. The 
shores continued so steep and hard to scale that the men 
dreaded the nightly landing. Nor was embarking at morn- 
ing any easier. Two men. must wade in waist deep and 
steady the canoes one by one in the plunging surf to load 
them. The second supply of corn in its turn ran low. They 
were reduced to a ration of a scant handful a day. Father 
Gabriel took to fainting from weakness though Father 
Louis' managed each time to revive him with some treasured 
"confection of hyacinth." The men ran about the woods 
wherever they landed and gobbled wild haws and were 
as sick as if they had been poisoned. Father Louis, by 
the grace of God, continued strong and vigorous: "I could 
often outrow all our other canoes/ 7 he mentions modestly. 
Once they saw on the coast a clustering swarm of ravens 
and eagles and, paddling eagerly inshore, found the half- 
eaten carcass of a very fat deer killed by wolves. That 
marked the end of starvation for the present. The Indian 
hunter was soon killing stags and deer, and the Frenchman 
fat turkeys. The country grew finer and the weather more 

They came to the south shore in the end of October and 
found the woods full of grapes as big as damson plums. 


They cut down the vine-hung trees to gather the fruit more 
easily. They ate grapes with their meat, having no bread, 
and the Recollet fathers again made wine, using an altar 
towel for a press and a birch bark bucket for a vat, storing 
the wine In gourds which they buried in the ground to keep 
it cool and sweet. Here they ran afoul a wandering band 
of hunters of the Fox nation; and though La Salle, by 
showing himself unafraid and quite ready to give battle, 
managed to turn a skirmish into a mutual display of calu- 
mets, followed by dancing, feasting, and speech-making, 
the hint of trouble was not to be averted. The Indians told 
him that the Illinois, farther south, would kill the French 
as inciters of Iroquois wrath against them, "which frighted 
our men," as Father Louis recorded, "and made Monsieur 
de La Salle very melancholy," 

From the end of Lake Michigan there are two ways to 
reach the sources of the Illinois, one by the Chicago River 
and a portage to the Des Plaines branch, the other by the 
St. Joseph and a portage to the Kankakee. The second 
route was the one already chosen by La Salle, and the 
mouth of the St. Joseph, "The River of the Miamis" agreed 
upon as a rendezvous with Tonty, La Salle and his party 
got to the meeting place on November 1, fully expecting 
to find Tonty already there, for Tonty was to come down 
the east coast, a route much shorter than their own, and 
with canoes more lightly laden. But they found the shore 
desolate and lonely. They encamped to wait. 

La Salle thought of his Griffin incessantly. If all had 
gone well she was now on her way back from Niagara with 
supplies and twenty recruits from France. He sounded 
the mouth of the river in anticipation of her arrival. He 
f ound a sandbank on which he feared she might go aground 
and carefully marked out a safe channel for her with tall 


poles with bearskin banners hanging down and buoys all 
along. He sent two messengers off to Michillimackinac 
to meet her and help Pilot Luke bring her safely here. He 
even had his men begin work on a fort at the mouth of the 
river to protect her in port and to serve as a storehouse for 
the goods she would bring. But in spite of all these careful 
measures he never shook off the memory of the September 
storm. The Griffin 9 s image haunted him, a beloved phan- 
tom: her shining sails, her rudely carved figure-head, her 
hull of hewn Niagara planks seamed with fir fibers and 
pitch, her staunch keel shearing the wide wild lakes into 
flying ribbons of spray. He talked of his fears to no one. 
But he daily became more despondent. 

The men felled the trees for this unexpected fort with 
the utmost reluctance, grumbling all the time at their diet 
of fat bear meat, which was all their Indian hunter was 
able to bring home lately. They thought La Salle harsh 
and unreasonable not to let them scatter through the woods 
and kill deer to eat instead. They did not see the use of 
waiting here for Tonty. A thin crust of ice was already 
forming at the edges of the river. They wanted to hurry 
on to the Illinois where at least there would be corn to 
eat before the river froze entirely. They got the Recol- 
let fathers to lay their griefs before their morose and silent 
leader, adding force to their demands, it seems, with threat 
of desertion. 

But nothing the priests said could change La Salle's 
intention to wait for Tonty. "He regarded his own will 
alone as reason/' and was even a little scornful of the 
fathers 9 fear of starving if the men should run off, telling 
them that "if all his men deserted he would remain with 
our Indian hunter, and that he would easily find means 
by hunting to enable three Recollet missionaries to live/' 


So the Fort of the Miamls was built, however reluctantly. 
On a high steep hill with a flat top there rose a redoubt 
forty feet by thirty of musket-proof logs hewn and laid one 
across the other. The two sides of the hill overlooking the 
river he spiked with pointed stakes driven in slantwise and 
on the landward side set an outwork of planted piles twenty- 
five feet tall. The priests made a little cabin to hold 
services in on Sundays and holidays; and after vespers 
Father Louis and old Father Gabriel, turn about, preached 
from texts calculated to inspire the men with Courage, 
Concord, and Brotherly Love. 

Tonty at last arrived. He brought two canoes loaded 
with stags to revive the workmen's failing spirits, but un- 
happily, he did not bring La Salle reassuring news about 
the Griffin. She had never touched at MichiUimackinac, 
he said, nor had he heard any tidings of her from Indians 
coming from all parts of the lake or from La Salle's two 
men whom he had encountered on their way up to meet 
her and guide her down the lake* Tonty, moreover, had 
committed the fault of leaving half his men hunting in the 
woods three days' journey from here. La Salle was much 
put out. Tonty turned about on his heel and with two of 
his men went to round up the truants. The ground whit- 
ened with snow. The river was freezing in earnest now. 
Word came back from Tonty that his canoe had wrecked, 
that he was without guns and food, living on acorns grubbed 
out of the snow and he had not found the truant hunters. 
La Salle ordered him to return. 

As soon as Tonty got back they loaded all the canoes for 
the journey to the Illinois. Leaving a garrison of four 
men in the new fort and letters to tell the truant hunters 
and the recruits expected on the Griffin how to follow, they 
set off southward along the St. Joseph. La Salle, always 


impatient, always solitary, left the crowded canoes to go 
Hunting alongshore. Tracking across the snow a deer 
he had wounded he wandered a long way from the river, 
and, when he tried to get hack, found his path barred by 
marshes* It was only late next afternoon, after a night 
spent in the wood at the abandoned campfire of a savage 
hunter startled away by his coming, and after a long 
day's marching, that he rejoined his party; and they, 
meantime, had passed too far upstream. Their own Indian 
hunter, like La Salle, had been looking for game along- 
shore; and they, lacking his expert eyes, had passed by 
the portage path without seeing it. But now the Indian 
overtook them with news of their error and the tidings that 
Tonty's truants had come up and were waiting below at 
the portage landing. The whole party except La Salle, 
exhausted by his adventure, and Father Louis, remaining 
to bear him company turned back at once; and the next 
morning La Salle and Father Louis followed them having 
no trouble at all in finding the portage because Father 
Gabriel, for their guidance, had blazed Christian crosses 
on the trees that framed it. 

Down the snow-clad shingle at the landing lay canoes of 
buffalo hide which Indians returning from the hunt had 
made to get their meat across the river. At the top of 
the tree-clad bluff spread an open plain across which 
the two-league portage ran, a path scooped out by un- 
counted buffalo hoofs and moccasined feet. They saw 
the plain strewn with horned skulls, gray against the snow. 
Here and there lifted tufts of trees gray and bare like 
the bones. On a little eminence over the prairie showed 
the roofs of a Miami village. The white men they were 
now twenty-nine, Tonty says took on their backs the 
cargo from the canoes: the smith's forge, with anvil and 


bellows and Iron for ship's nails and bolts, the tools, the 
arms, the goods for Indian presents and trade; and lifted 
the eight canoes from the ground* La Salle tied to the 
blazed trees letters for the recruits who might even yet be 
coming by the Griffin, and they all plodded off. 

La Salle walked on in front as he always did, alone 
with his unhappy thoughts. Besides his sickening fear 
that the Griffin was lost, he bore now the weight of that 
rebellion smoldering in the hearts of the men trudging 
along at his back. He knew that only a spark was needed 
to set aflame an open mutiny, and the thought filled him 
with dread. The success of his cherished exploration lay 
with these men behind him. Why could he not inspire them 
with some of his own passionate energy? He never asked 
of them so much as he asked of himself. He slept on the 
same hard ground at night, ate the same spare food, was 
hungry when they were, bore his share and more of every 
burden. Even of the men who had served him as lackeys 
in France he asked here no personal service. In the letters 
recounting this troublous passage, he would argue it all out 
with an almost monotonous insistence. Never had he 
struck one of his men but for blasphemy, a mild corrective 
for such a sin. In Canada the blasphemer who persisted 
in his crime could by law of the king have his tongue cut 
out by the roots. Surely La Salle was a good master, 
deserving loyal service. And yet, as they filed along over 
the snowy plain, one of the men behind him his back 
aching under its load, his stomach painfully empty lifted 
his gun, aimed it, and but for having it struck down by 
some more friendly hand, would have emptied it, full into 
their leader's back. 

The portage path brought them to a boggy land of many 
springs and ponds and little meandering streams. In one 


of these they set the canoes afloat, eased their shoulders 
of their burdens, took their places in the canoes, and once 
more plied the paddles. The stream beneath them be- 
came little by little a river, comparable in their eyes after 
a while, to the Maine. Vast marshes spread about them. 
As far as they could see were only dried brown flags and 
alders, a russet blur above the drifts of snow and sheets of 
frozen marsh water. At night they landed on some frozen 
hummock to light a fire and sleep. The river twisted in- 
credibly. Sometimes after a whole day's paddling they 
were hardly two leagues from where they had started at 
morning. The provisions gave out. They hoped to get 
game when they ran out of the marshes, but the plains 
when they came to them, had been burned over by Miami 
hunters in their great annual buffalo hunt. And do what 
they might the travelers could kill no more than a lean 
stag, one small deer and a few wild geese sparse fare for 
twenty-nine starving men. Far off at the edges of the 
prairie waved flames lit by unseen hunters to drive the 
buffalo in range of their arrows. The hungry canoemen 
gazed at those far fires and talked of deserting to the In- 
dians. At last when they had nothing at all left to eat 
they found a buffalo mired on the river bank. He was 
enormous. It took twelve men and a great cable to haul 
him out. But even that mountain of meat came to an end 
and they were hungry again. 

Toward the end of December at a distance of a hundred 
and thirty leagues below Lake Michigan they came to an 
Indian village on the right bank of the Illinois River. It 
was entirely empty, its inhabitants being all away upon the 
hunt. The white men were free to land and walk about 
among the four hundred and sixty long arbor-like cabins, 
study their coverings of rush mats so well sewed that 


wind and rain and snow could not pierce them, and calcu- 
late from the hearths in every lodge how many families 
It normally housed. They found underground caches 
crammed with corn, and La Salle, though he knew this 
hoard was a precious treasure to Its owners. Both for liveli- 
hood when the hunting season should be past and for the 
spring sowing, took thirty hushels to provision his grum- 
bling troop. 

He took his bearings here and found the latitude to be 
thirty-nine degrees and fifty minutes. Father Louis com- 
plains that La Salle was jealous of his prerogatives as en- 
gineer and let no one but himself touch his astrolabe. But 
once it was La Salle who had had to stand idle while a 
priest fingered the navigators' instruments and made all the 
calculations. Things had turned about since then. He 
was the leader now. Let the priests busy themselves with 
their breviary and beads. 

New Year's Day found them some days' journey farther 
down river. They said mass on the river-bank, and after- 
ward Father Louis made an exhortation, "wishing a Happy 
New Year to the Sieur de La Salle and all our party, and 
after the most touching words . . . begged all our mal- 
contents to arm themselves with patience, representing to 
them that God would provide for their wants." 



THAT evening they saw across a little lake Peoria the 
smoke of an Indian hunting camp. And the next morning 
they came in sight of a number of pirogues boats made 
of great hollowed logs, unlike their northern bark canoes 
on both sides of the river, and about eighty hunting 
lodges. La Salle drew his canoes up in a line, gave his 
men orders to lay down their paddles and take their guns 
in hand. Drifting with the current they rounded a little 
point within half a gunshot of the Indians who had not 
before spied them. La Salle gave the cry which means, 
is it peace you want or fighting? And there was a great 
stir on both banks. The old men, the women and children 
fled to the woods; the warriors ran to arms. La Salle 
leaped ashore, ordering his men not to fire, and a chief 
checked the arrows on the opposite bank. Warriors drew 
about the French as they landed, and brought them into 
the huts to the fire, for it was bitter cold; rubbed their feet 
with bear's grease, and with dirty fingers put tiny morsels 
of meat, breath-cooled, into their mouths* 

La Salle managed the parley cautiously. He told the 
Illinois about the corn he had taken from their village up- 
river and said he would either pay for it in axes and goods 
or return it if they felt they could not spare it. They 
accepted his axes with joy. Then he explained that lie 
wished to build here in their country a fort as a protec- 
tion against a possible invasion of their enemies the Iro- 



quols and a great wooden canoe to sail down to the sea 
and bring them all kinds of merchandise by that shorter 
and easier way* Then he questioned them about the Great 

They said it was beautiful and broad, without water- 
falls or rapids and fed by many fine streams from east and 
west. "They told me marvels about it which I intend to 
write you when I shall have seen the truth of them," La 
Salle set down in a letter to Paris. He was charmed when 
they named to him the Chickasaw and other southward 
tribes mentioned in the De Soto relations, and assured him 
they had been in their pirogues to these distant peoples. 
Below that point, he adds happily, "I knew that Moscosco 
had been to Mexico in the brigantines which he had built 

These Illinois who encouraged him so warmly were tall, 
well made, fleet of foot. Still using their primitive bows 
and arrows, they were unaware of European firearms, 
almost untouched by European influence. Almost, but not 
quite. Among them ran three children bearing Christian 
names: Pierre, Joseph, Mary. In the vacant town up-river 
La Salle had seen the Jesuit Father Allouez* stick left "as 
a mark that the field was his/* although the Jesuit himself 
was now withdrawn from the Illinois to the Miamis north- 
ward. Now, close on the heels of La Salle's party there 
arrived at the Illinois* hunting camp a Miami chief named 
Monso with an escort of five or six braves loaded down 
with kettles, knives and hatchets. La Salle believed this 
Monso hailed from the very Miami village in which Father 
Allouez now was and he was darkly suspicious of Monso's 
mission with its tinkling accompaniment of European hard- 
ware. That night the Illinois chiefs met the Miami em- 
bassy in secret conclave* And the next day, Monso having 


disappeared as mysteriously as he had come. La Salle was 
hardly surprised to hear from a friendly Illinois that 
Monso had declared La Salle brother to the Iroquois, 
breathing his breath, eating the serpents of his country, 
and undertaking this journey to the Great River for the 
sole purpose of delivering up the Illinois to their ancient 

The Illinois chiefs lost no time in trying to counteract 
their former encouragement That same afternoon a cer- 
tain Nicanape, brother to the great chief Chassagoac now 
absent on the hunt, invited La Salle and his men to a feast. 
As soon as they sat down Nicanape told La Salle that he 
had invited him here not to appease his hunger but to cure 
his mind of its disease of wanting to go down the Great 
River. No man, he said, had ever made that journey 
without meeting his death. Explaining that he spoke out 
of friendliness, he set forth all the dangers. Beginning 
with an enumeration of all the barbarous tribes on tie 
Great River's banks who could overwhelm with sheer num- 
bers La Salle's handful however well they might be armed, 
he passed on to the serpents and crocodiles with which the 
river was filled, its precipices, falls and whirlpools, and 
finally described a frightful bottomless abyss into which 
it plunged at last. 

Among La SaUe's men were two traders who under- 
stood the Illinois tongue, and upon their faces La Salle 
saw dread appear. He knew that in a little while they 
would be turning their fears into good French which the 
last man of his wavering crew could understand. But he 
replied coolly: "That is good, iny brother. We were 
afraid we should acquire very little glory in this voyage 
because of finding no occasions for display of courage, nor 
difficulties to surmount. But we shall go forward gladly 


now that we know the grandeur of our enterprise will 
make our name live after us, if we perish in achieving it. 
... I was not asleep, my brother Nicanape, last night 
when Monso made yon that false portrait of the French 
which he sketched by night and in secret like an Iroqnois 
spy. The kettles and other presents he made you to con- 
firm those lies are still here in this cabin where you have 
buried them in the earth. "Why has he fled so soon after 
those falsehoods? If he is not a liar let him speak by 
daylight as I do. . . ." So did he move his hearers that 
they at once sent out runners after Monso to overtake and 
bring him. back. But a heavy snow had fallen in the night 
and the runners could not find his trail. 

January 6 9 Epiphany. The Feast of Kings. In Rouen 
all the high chimes would be ringing. Beneath the leaning 
gables tradesmen's boys would be running with liqueurs 
from the wine-merchant, cakes from the baker, "the candles 
of the king" from the chandler. On the bridges over the 
Robec, in the parvis of the cathedral, about the fountain 
of the Horloge people would be endlessly milling and 
chattering. At evening all the ships in the harbor would 
be alight, sounds of hautboys and violins spilling out of 
doorways, in every house the king's cake would be cut and 
a king of the bean would be crowned. TaleteUing, laugh- 
ter, and the old merry toast: The king drinks, the king 
drinks. * . * 

In the Illinois country the river and woods were locked 
in the bitterest cold in the memory of the Indians. Mon- 
sieur de La Salle on going out of his cabin at waking found 
that six of his men had run away in the night, including the 
two pitsawyers "without whom we could not make a bark 
to go to the sea*" The deserters had not scrupled to help 
themselves to guns and provisions and whatever else they 


needed from his painfully transported stores. And one 
of them, Toniy believed, must have put poison into La 
Salle's kettle, for after eating his morning sagamite, La 
Salle was stricken with violent pains and forced to have 
recourse to an antidote with which his friends had armed 

The long-dreaded disaster, however, had cleared the air 
like a thunder-storm. La Salle ordered the men who re- 
mained to say to the Indians that their fellows were absent 
on an errand for him. And, choosing a site about a half 
league from the Illinois hunting-camp, a knoll some two 
hundred paces back from the river-bank with ravines on 
two sides of it, he put his diminished forces to work as 
though nothing had happened. He had them cut a ditch 
between the two ravines, slice down the sloping sides of 
the eminence, buttress the earth with stout timbers, and 
plant aU around a stockade of pointed logs twenty-five feet 
high and a foot thick. The top of the mound they edged 
with a parapet of earth and inside of that built two bar- 
racks and a little cabin to serve as priests' lodging and 
chapel they could no longer say mass, the wild-grape 
wine being all gone now, but they still said morning and 
evening prayer and sang vespers on Sundays and holidays. 
They set up the smith's forge on the side toward the wood, 
and the Sieur de La Salle and the Sieur de Tonty had 
their shelter in the middle. They named the new fort, 
not Dauphin as La Salle had once promised, but Creve- 
cceur, either, as Father Membre says, because of many 
vexations experienced there, or, as seems more likely, 
for that Netherlands Crevecceur which had fallen to Louis 
XIV when young Henri de Tonty was in his service. 

The activity had a salutary effect on La Salle's spirits 
and everybody else's. He continued to amass information 


for his journey. Returning from a hunt one day with 
four wild turkeys at his belt he received in fair exchange 
for one of them a map of his riven While a pot boiled 
with the turkey in it, the young Illinois to whom he had 
made his gift drew with charcoal on a scrap of bark. Ad- 
vance courier of a war-party returning from the South he 
had, he said, followed everywhere in his pirogue the course 
of the Great River, which had, all the way to the sea, 
neither falls nor rapids, and presented to the traveler the 
danger only of floods in summer and the treachery of mud- 
banks and sandbars. 

When La SaEe went next morning to the hunting-camp to 
visit his Illinois neighbors., he found them assembled in 
one cabin celebrating a mighty feast of bears. Taking his 
place among them he proceeded to confound the chiefs 
who had lied to him with a clear and circumstantial de- 
scription of the Mississippi. Startled by his sudden and, to 
them, supernatural knowledge, they clapped their hands 
against their mouths it was their sign of wonder and 
admitted the truth of what he said. Shortly thereafter came 
deputations of Chickasaws, Osages and Arkansas, who 
"having learned of our arrival were come up from the 
South to see the French and forge some hatchets." It was 
necessary to talk with the newcomers by signs, but the thing 
was managed. They all declared the Great River navigable 
all the way to the sea. Western Indians came, too, with 
horseshoes and so many hints of Spaniards that La Salle 
burned to hurry on before some other nation laid claim 
to his Louisiana. 

Not to be balked of a bark for his voyage, for want of 
two beggarly pitsawyers, he set himself to master the saw- 
yer's craft, and, calling for volunteers, took two men. on as 
apprentices. Soon they were turning out rough sheathing 


planks for the hull. A little later they set up stocks and 
laid the keel not of that ship he had dreamed of sailing 
out through the Gulf, across the Atlantic and into the 
harbor of La Rochelle, freighted with buffalo hides from 
the Mississippi plains and the news of his great discovery, 
but of a modest river craft forty-two feet long by ten in 
breadth of beam. The date cannot have been far off the 
anniversary of the laying of the Griffin's keel, but if there 
were ceremonies, reminiscent or otherwise, to mark the 
new bark's commencement none are mentioned. 

As preliminary to the major expedition to the sea, he 
decided to send two of his men in a canoe for trading and 
exploration along the Mississippi northward from the 
mouth of the Illinois. He suggested that Father Louis 
Hennepin, who had always longed to distinguish himself 
in some great discovery, should go along. But Father 
Louis was curiously reluctant. He approached Father 
Membre, statedly discouraged with Christianizing the 
savages, and offered to take Father Membre's place as 
missionary to the Illinois if Father Membre would take 
his in the canoe. Father Membre refused. Then Father 
Louis went to La Salle and complained of a suppuration of 
the gums and said he should like to return to Canada for 
medical treatment. It took Father Gabriel, his one-time 
father master, to revive the timid friar's fainting courage: 
64 'It is true, my son, 9 said this venerable old man . * . who 
had whitened more than forty years in the austerity of 
penance, "that you will have many monsters to overcome, 
and precipices to pass, which demands the strength of the 
most robust. You do not know a word of the language of 
these nations whom yon are going to try to gain to God, 
but courage, you will gain as many victories as combats. 9 

At last Father Louis consented to accompany La Salle's 


traders up the Mississippi. And in the end he was even 
able to take his customary pleasure in his outfit. He had 
a mariner's compass to tuck in the sleeve of his gown; a 
broad-bellied camp kettle, three feet in girth, with the figure 
of a lion on it; and all his holy accouterments: his brocade 
chasuble with the red and white wool girdle, his little 
portable chapel with its glittering silver gilt chalice. La 
Salle gave them a calumet and 1,000 livres in goods 
for trading. "And he gave me," wrote Father Louis, 
"ten knives, twelve awls, a small roll of tobacco to give 
to the Indians, about two pounds of black and white beads 
and a small package of needles, assuring me that he would 
have given me more if he had been able* In fact he is 
very liberal with his friends." 

The canoe with Father Louis and his two companions 
set off from Fort Creveccrar on the last day of February 
to go down the Illinois River the Divine, as Joliet had 
named it a river "smooth and deep, broad as the Seine at 
Paris," opening between fine bluffs plumed with trees 
where bright-winged parrakeets flashed. La Salle watched 
the canoe disappear on its envied way toward the Missis- 
sippi, and then turned to complete his preparations for his 
own departure on the next day in the contrary direction. 

His new-building bark had no anchors, no cables or 
ropes, no sails. Part of this gear he had left at Niagara to 
be fetched by the Griffin on her return, and even the part 
he had brought safely through the lakes he had had to 
leave in the Griffiths hold when he and his men had taken 
to canoes at Pottawatamie Island. He still had no news 
of the Griffin. The two men sent to meet her at Michilli- 
mackinac had never come back, though the time La Salle 
had prescribed was long since past. If the Griffin should 
be lost, anchors and rigging could be got only by a journey 


to Lake Ontario. To make that journey around by the 
lakes meant waiting till May. But he could go now on 
foot across country. The distance must be all of five hun- 
dred leagues in a straight line. Thaws had set in. The 
snow was not firm enough to bear snowshoes. He knew 
what it would be like the danger from stray scalping 
parties, the hunger, the cold, the toilsome bivouac under 
chill stars, the marching by day often in water waist-deep, 
weighted with camp kettle, gun, powder, lead, hatchet, 
dressed skin to make new moccasins oh ? he knew well 
enough what it meant. But he was going to do it as 
though by greater and greater effort he could appease that 
dark dread of frustration which often swooped so near him, 
could compensate the faint-heartedness of his men. Of 
whom young Henri de Tonty "was the only one who seemed 
to me to have any firmness." 



BESIDES his devoted Indian hunter and the four Frenchmen 
whom La Salle chose to make his journey with him, he 
took along two of Tonty's garrison to fetch corn for the 
fort back from the Illinois town up-river. The distance 
from Crevecoeur to the Illinois town was a matter of only 
thirty leagues. They had made it in four days coming 
downstream in January, But it was another matter now. 
Though the river before the fort was clear of ice when the 
two canoes pushed off, the lake, hardly an hour's journey 
farther on, was frozen fast, Tonty's extreme need of 
provisions made it imperative not to abandon the canoes. 
La Salle hoped, besides, that the swifter current above the 
lake would have opened a channel there. So they made 
sledges and dragged canoes and baggage a matter of 
seven or eight leagues and one day's time. But the river 
above was, after all, full of ice too weak for them to walk 
on but too strong to yield a passage to frail bark canoes. 
They made a day-long portage through snow to the knees, 
arriving, luckily, at some hunters' shelters in time to take 
cover from a torrential rain which fell all that night. 

On the next day they were able during some hours to 
paddle by crashing a passage through the river ice with 
poles, but at four o'clock that afternoon the ice got too 
thick for them, and they had to make another toilsome 
portage circling far out around frozen marsh land. Above 

this they found the river clear at first but about noon the 



next day they began to meet great masses of ice. Again 
and again they landed to let them drift by. And so it 
went, dodging ice-cakes, landing to make a portage, pad- 
dling, breaking out a channel with flails and hatchets. 
Once a heavy snow fell and they had to wait a day for it 
to freeze. Then they strapped on their snowshoes and, 
dragging their canoes, went forward. Two days of that 
and they arrived, some eleven days after starting, at the 
Illinois village. 

La Salle had counted on finding some one here to sell 
him corn for Fort Crevecceur, but the village was as empty 
as when they had first seen it. A two-day rainstorm set in 
which softened the ice in the river and sent great chunks 
hurtling past to gather at the sandbars and islands below 
the village into huge jams piling thunderously higher and 
higher. After the rain, La Salle lit some frost-dried reeds 
as a signal to whatever Illinois might be hunting near. 
The next day while the men were smoke-drying the meat 
of a buffalo bullock they had killed, there arrived two sav- 
ages closely followed by Chassagoac, the principal chief of 
the Illinois. This was great good luck, because Chassagoac 
had not been at the hunting camp near Fort Crevecceur and 
La Salle welcomed this opportunity to win his friendship. 
He gave Chassagoac a red blanket, a kettle, some knives 
and hatchets, arranged with him to send com to Tonty as 
soon as the ice jam should break and then laid before the 
chief his plan to go, as soon as he should return from his 
present journey, to discover the mouth of the Great River. 
Chassagoac confirmed everything he had learned concern- 
ing its course and promised to do all in his power for the 
success of the enterprise. Perhaps they also discussed 
changing the French post from Crevecceur to the great 


Impregnable rock across the river from the plain in which 
the village stood. 

Leaving two men and one canoe to take the promised 
corn to Tonty, the diminished party pushed on as before, 
paddling when possible, dodging ice chunks,, making their 
portage. But on the third day they found the river frozen 
hard and La Salle decided to abandon the canoe. They 
hid it on an island and set off afoot weighted with their 
outfit. It was hard going. The sun was hot at noon, all 
the world dripped in thaw, but the nights were bitter cold. 
Now they floundered through a great swamp. Now they 
came to swift deep streams -which they could cross only 
by making rafts wretched things of unsuitable hardwoods 
which floundered along awash "between two waters/ 5 But 
at length they reached the shore of Lake Michigan and at 
last, March 24, the fort they had built the autumn before 
at the mouth of the St. Joseph* 

Coming out of the woods upon the little log redoubt in 
this wild and lonely spot, La Salle was half surprised to 
find it still whole. His markers in the river, too, were 
probably just as he had left them, the buoys, the tall 
poles with their bearskin banners rocking gently in the 
current. But there was no ship in port by now of course 
he hardly expected there would be and at the fort he 
found the two men whom he had sent the first of November 
to Michillimackinac to meet the Griffin, as he had hoped, 
on her return. They reported, even as Tonty four months 
earlier, that Michillimackinac had never seen the Griffin. 
They had made the circuit of the lake evidently return- 
ing by the west coast since they had gone up by the east 
without seeing any wreckage. Nor had any savages or 
roving coureurs de bois whom they had met and questioned 
seen any. True there was one savage tale of three cannon 


shots heard In a Bight when a great southwest wind had 
been blowing such a wind as would be favorable for 
passing beyond but not for anchoring at Michillimackinac. 
Had the Griffin gone through the strait by night and on to 
Niagara? A shadowy hope, hardly worth clutching at, and 
yet of course he grasped It. He would not yet give her 
up as lost. 

The two messengers believed the Griffin would never be 
heard from again. Moreover they had picked up at Mich- 
illimackinac a rumor that Monsieur de La Salle's cred- 
itors in Canada led by his brother had seized all that he 
owned. They eyed him narrowly while they told him, cal- 
culating his losses and thinking, as such men would, of 
their own wages. And when he ordered them on to Creve- 
cceur with a message to Tonty to fortify a certain cliff 
across the river from the Illinois village they obeyed with 
irony in their hearts. He and his forts! He was a lost 
man. He would never see his Crevecoeur, as he called it, 
again or "the Rock" he said Tonty was to fortify. Oh, 
they'd go on to Crevecoeur, if only to warn those poor 
devils down there to collect their wages out of the store- 
house and save their skins. 

La Salle, having got off the messengers to Tonty, made a 
raft to cross the river and with his five companions left the 
Fort of the Miamis the day after arriving there. He struck 
out eastward across the neck of the Michigan peninsula, a 
region entirely unexplored, having, in the phrase of Tonty, 
no other guide but his genius and his compass. They 
plunged through woods where the brambles were so inter- 
laced that in two days' time their clothes were in tatters 
and their faces scratched and bleeding beyond recognition. 
But then they came to fine woods and good hunting. Here- 
tofore they had often marched till night without breakfast. 


But now game was so abundant that they no longer loaded 
themselves with any provisions, contenting themselves 
with eating a bit of roasted meat wherever they killed some 
deer or bear or turkey. 

They were passing through a borderland separating 
several hostile nations, and the shots which they fired and 
the carcasses which they left on the ground soon brought 
savages on their trail. Once, encamped for the night 
around a little fire on the edge of a beautiful prairie, they 
were surrounded by a band of Indians, but the Indians, per- 
haps seeing their guns or believing them in greater force 
than they were, withdrew without loosing their arrows. 
Thereafter La Salle began leaving behind him the same 
marks that an army of Iroquois would have made, lighting 
several campfires and depicting on the bark of trees slaves 
and scalps as in commemoration of victorious battles. In 
this way they got through the open country without further 
annoyance. But then they came to a great swamp where 
for three days on end they had to wade waist-deep in mud 
and could not hide their tracks. At first they made no 
fires, simply taking ofi their clothes to dry overnight while 
they slept wrapped in their blankets. But on the night of 
the second of April there was a heavy frost. Their clothes 
froze stiff as sticks and they had to light a fire to thaw 
them. That brought a band of savages running upon them 
in the dark with loud yells. La Salle stepped out to meet 
them. They halted on the farther bank of a little stream, 
perhaps frightened by the glint of his gun in the firelight, 
at any rate crying out that they had been looking for Iro- 
quois, not for white men, and so withdrew. 

Two of La Sailers men fell sick. They sought out a 
river which would take them into Lake Erie, found a 
species of elm used by the Iroquois for canoes, laboriously 


peeled the bark with boiling water so as not to crack it, 
stretched It on a proper frame of curved poles and braces, 
and voila a vessel good for four or five hundred leagues. 
Unfortunately the river on which they launched the new 
canoe was now full of masses of floating trees uprooted 
by the spring overflows. Each time one of these swimming 
thickets came along they had to land while it went past. 
They lost so much time that in five days' canoeing they 
made less mileage than in one good day's march. So, as 
soon as the sick men had sufficiently recovered, they 
abandoned the canoe, took to their feet again, and thus 
came to the mouth of the Detroit where Tonty some eight 
months earlier had watched the sails of the Griffin wing 
proudly in over Lake Erie. 

The memory was bitter. La Salle looked wistfully 
northward up that gentle strait where he had sailed his 
little bark all festooned with bearskins and game, fragrant 
with crushed grapes. He decided to have two of his men 
stop here, make another canoe and go up the Detroit and 
Lake Huron to Michillimackinac in one more effort to 
have news of her. With his two remaining Frenchmen and 
his Indian he crossed the Detroit on a raft and continued on 
foot along the north shore of Lake Erie. The spring rain 
fell In sheets and the great thaws filled all the woods with 
water. They marched continually through water and mud. 
At thirty leagues from Niagara one of the Frenchmen and 
the Indian were taken with inflammation of the lungs ac- 
companied by high fever and a vomiting of blood. La 
Salle and the other were obliged to make a canoe to carry 
them in. That took two days. But on the Monday after 
Easter they reached Niagara Falls. 

Another log outpost, barely visible against its woodland 
background, another handful of lonely men waiting to wel- 


come Mm with bitter tidings: the ship St. Pierre after 
crossing the Atlantic to bring him goods from France had 
gone down off the lie Percee in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 
Of the twenty recruits expected for the Illinois project on 
last summer's ships all but four, discouraged by rumors 
about La Salle circulated at Quebec, had gone straight 
back to France. His affairs had been utterly wrecked by 
the panic of his brother and other creditors. "That which 
gave me the greatest chagrin was having no news at all of 
my bark by the arrival of which I could have been able 
to remedy everything." The 40,000 livres which the 
Griffin and her cargo represented were nothing in his eyes 
compared to the body blow her loss would deal to his 
enterprise. He looked about him at the stores packed tight 
in the frail wooden cabin, aE the things so painfully 
brought together here above the "three mountains 59 of 
Niagara and so sorely needed now at Fort Crevecceur the 
cordage and sails and tackle for his half -built bark on the 
Illinois River, the arms, ammunition, tools, iron, utensils, 
goods for trading. Without the Griffin how should he 
move them? 

However, there was no time for vain regret. He com- 
mandeered part of the Niagara garrison, some five or six 
in all, to take Tonty two canoeloads of the things most 
urgently needed. They would have to go by Michilli- 
mackinac and could pick up the two men he had lately sent 
up the Detroit for news. The two pneumonia convalescents 
and his third remaining companion of voyage he left here 
at Niagara to recover-, and, taking three fresh men, pushed 
on. The spring rains retarded him terribly but he reached 
Fort Frontenac on May 6. There he found his letters from 
France, containing along with urgent demands for the 
promised profits of his undertaking and the suggestion that 


le ship his buffalo hides by Canada and not bother about 
my western river, page after page repeating the current 
jossip about him* He was wasteful, luxurious; he was 
?razy; and of course he was dishonest. A gentleman at 
Brest In December had questioned a traveler from Canada 
>fi on your Monsieur de La Salle. He told me he was In the 
woods, that is to say he had disappeared ... in order to 
enjoy for another year the money he owes. . . . He had 
goods on the St. Pierre which was wrecked at He Percee 
and as he had disappeared before he knew of that loss one 
believes that he will keep out of sight all the more. . . ." 
Affairs at Fort Frontenac were not in good state: the store- 
house lacked goods for trading; the brigantine would soon 
have to be replaced; the post was unpopular among the 
Iroquois because. La Salle believed, of Jesuit Influence. 

He despatched a canoe to Quebec for itemized state- 
ments of his rained finances. He hurried off La Forest, 
commandant of Fort Frontenac, with a second handful of 
reinforcements for Tonty, who would be expecting La Salle 
himself at the end of the month. The canoe returned from 
Quebec with his accounts. Of the four men who had re- 
mained out of twenty come from France last summer, three 
for varying reasons were not available for his service. 
From the wrecked St. Pierre he had left one forge bellows, 
spoiled; three pieces of sailcloth; two chimney plaques; 
and a lot of tobacco utterly ruined by salt water. Some 
of the salvage had been sold at auction and the proceeds 
divided among the interested at a mark to the livre. La 
Salle's cash share, 2,200 livres, had all been spent, part 
for board at Quebec of the men who had gone back to 
France, part for making up into great-coats a lot of 
wretched shoddy sent by one of his French associates under 
the name of Iroquois cloth to which it bore no slightest 


resemblance. Of all that had been sent from France there 
had remained only some beads, colors, rice, medicine, 
powder and lead, most of it still at Quebec. Part of it on 
its way by canoe to Fort Frontenac lately had overturned 
in the rapids the St. Lawrence being greatly swollen this 
spring by reason of the heavy rains. The conduct of his 
brother, the Abbe Jean Cavelier, now it seems departed for 
France, was placed beyond doubt. Having vainly opposed 
his younger brother's western expedition all along, the 
Abbe Jean, the moment he knew that La Salle had really 
started, had behaved like "the most enraged enemy," seiz- 
ing his peltries, appearing before the Sovereign Council 
at Quebec to defend his right to them against every other 
soul who had accommodated La Salle with loans. The 
thought of his greed was shameful to La Salle: "I thought 
I should die of chagrin." 

To go on La Salle had to have money. Perhaps he was 
able to borrow a little among his settlers at Fort Frontenac: 
certainly a note of a later date was to be made in favor 
of one Mademoiselle Alonne of that place, a fact which has 
sometimes engaged the imagination, of the romantically 
minded. But, according to a contemporary chronicler, 
Count Frontenac was in this hour the only person in 
Canada not in league against him. The count had sent 
him word to come down to Montreal. He went of course. 
He must have arrived in the midst of the annual fair. The 
Great Trade was grown prodigiously these last years. The 
common was crowded thick with trading booths; the Indian 
camp beyond the creek held as many as eight hundred 
Indians at once to whom Count Frontenac offered feasts 
and entertainment continually. Trading filled the place 
with excitement. The coureurs de bois back from a year 
or so in the woods gave themselves over to the wildest 


feasting and gaming and gallantry, pushing hard upon 
lewdness. Savages excited by drink and acquisition ran 
naked from door to door. The ladies of Villemarie were 
constrained to lift their fans before their eyes for very 
modesty. There was brawling: a soldier beat a habitant; 
Perrot, once more the local governor and as violent as ever, 
caned a merchant. Duchesneau the intendant bringing 
from Quebec his hate of Frontenac enviously watched the 
presents the latter received from the Indians, saw the gov- 
ernor's guard "trading openly their belts upon their shoul- 
ders," and bitterly resolved that the king should hear of 
all this. 

Cavelier de La Salle, solitary, austere, fanatically de- 
voted to an idea which Villemarie had long ago found 
amusing and of late expensive, threaded his way through 
the pandemonium and somehow, with Frontenac's help, was 
able to repair his credit sufficiently to get such supplies as 
he needed for his expedition- He also staved off ruin for 
Fort Frontenac by issuing permits for trading thereabout, 
renouncing all profit for himself in order, he was after- 
wards to declare, to keep the fort's storehouse stocked 
with merchandise and to prevent the trade diverted at such 
pains from the English from falling again into their hands. 
He concluded his business at Villemarie and got away 
again in eight days' time. 

Once more the journey up the St. Lawrence* which 
familiarity made no less toilsome. Each obstacle must be 
met in the old way, sometimes in water waist-deep, drag- 
ging the loaded canoe, sometimes stemming the current 
by poling, at every portage shouldering the load and plod- 
ding along afoot. It was midsummer. Midges hung in 
clouds about the heads of La Salle and his canoemen. 
Surely he was reminded of all the other times he had trav- 


eled this way. That first time when he had sold all that 
he had to go in search of the Beautiful River of Seneca 
legend* The journey through the lakes at behest of the 
enthusiastic Talon. The spring he was sent as envoy to 
the Iroquois from Frontenac the new governor by what 
irony had Robert Cavelier of Villemarie been chosen by 
the new governor to treat with the Iroquois and Louis 
Joliet of Quebec sent out to explore the West? Seven 
years ago exactly Joliet had been floating down the 
Mississippi. But never mind. Joliet had abandoned his 
exploration half completed. In these seven years he had 
got a wife, fathered three sons, and now the king was 
giving him seignorial rights to the island of AnticostL Let 
Joliet found a Canadian seignory and go on begetting chil- 
dren* It was La Salle who should follow the Great River 
to the sea. His impatient thoughts ran far ahead of him: 
Fort Frontenac, the journey to the Illinois, Fort Crevecceur, 
the new bark surely Tonty had long since finished it 
the hoisted sails, the southward journey* This autumn 
with luck . . . 

At Fort Frontenac he loaded the brigantine which was to 
take him on the next lap of his westward way. But before 
he got off there arrived one more budget of news for him, 
from the far country of the Illinois this time. The pair 
whom La Salle had sent from the Fort of the Miamis down 
to Crevecceur had duly arrived there, delivered La Salle's 
orders to Tonty, seen him set off toward "the Rock" up the 
Illinois, and had then gathered the workmen about them. 
Picture that circle of artisan faces, weathered by hard- 
ships the owners had never had the wit to foresee, pinched 
by worry about wages, close-gathered about a bit of fire 
glowing in the infinite somber wilderness a wretched lead- 
erless lot listening like frightened children to a goblin story: 


The Griffin would never be heard from; the Sieur de La 
Salle was bankrupt, a lost man, he would never see 
Crevecceur again. So, terrified, greedy, destructive, un- 
reasoning, they had pillaged the storehouse, flung down 
the palisade and fled, leaving the new bark four planks 
high in the stocks and Tonty with the two priests and 
after he had sent off these messengers to La Salle only 
three men besides, without defense, with practically no 
ammunition, reduced to taking potluck with the savages. 
That was in April. Tonty then had hoped for La Salle's 
return at the end of May. It was now almost the end of 
July. There was no guessing how he had fared mean- 

The deserters were said to be on the north shore of Lake 
Ontario coming this way. La Salle took nine men with him 
and set off In the brigantine to meet them. Out on the 
lake he met two canoes of his own Fort Frontenac habitants 
who, trading on the north shore, had met the deserters, 
heard them boast they were coming to kill La Salle, and 
had hurried back, paddling night and day to warn him. 
Already the renegades, by their own boast, had done what 
they could to ruin him. Coming up from Fort Crevecceur 
they had demolished the log outpost at the mouth of the 
St. Joseph, had passed up Lake Michigan to Michilli- 
inackinac and helped themselves to furs stored there in 
La Salle's name. Their numbers swelled to twenty by 
earlier deserters and led by one Turcot they had at last 
approached the lonely storehouse above the falls at 

Turcot? La Salle may have found it hard at first to 
remember any one by that name. Had any Turcot ever 
worked for him? No. But a man named Turcot had owed 
him a bit of money once, long ago at Villemarie. La Salle, 


then a youth of twenty-five, had needed that money for an 
expedition to the Indians' Beautiful River, and pressing 
collection, had found this man Turcot a murderer in the 
sight of God and had denounced him to the authorities. 
The sentence of death had accordingly been passed on this 
Turcot and ever since eleven years, was it not? the man 
had been a fugitive waiting for the day when he should 
meet a certain hand of cowardly carpenters and artisans 
and lead them up to the log hut where, under guard of two 
lone sentries, La Salle had stored the supplies and ship 
tackle for his voyage to the mouth of the Mississipi. The 
two guards at Niagara, it seemed, had struck their colors 
promptly. All together they had opened the wine kegs 
and dipped into the barrels of flour. They had crammed 
into their sacks all the loot they would hold. At Niagara 
they had divided into two bands, one to go along the south 
shore of Lake Ontario to dispose of their booty at New 
York, the other, twelve strong, coming now along the 
north shore with that boast about killing La Salle. 

La Salle left part of his men In the brigantine and with 
five set off by canoe and paddled all night, patrolling the 
shores to look for the deserters 5 campfire. Just at sunrise 
they reached a headland opposite Gull Island where they 
spied two canoes steering straight toward them. The lead 
canoe held five men. When it came near enough La Salle 
darted out from the sheltering headland. Putting his faith 
in his superior canoemen he ordered a stem chase. The 
paddles flashed in the dawn-flushed water. La Salle lifted 
his gun, aimed it, shouted an order to surrender. Taken 
off guard, the men in the other canoe rowed to him and 
under the muzzles of his men's cocked guns submitted to 
being disarmed. La Salle's canoe wheeled to attack the 
second and took it in the same way. It contained only 


two men. The prisoners said their remaining five com- 
panions were following in a third canoe a day's journey 
behind. Since there was no use waiting for them now, 
La Salle returned the seven prisoners to Fort Frontenac. 

At six o'clock the next afternoon patrolling the lake with 
eight men in two canoes, he sighted a canoe several miles 
away across the lake and ordered his men to give chase, 
but the fleeing canoe, being close inshore, made a landing 
before they could overtake it. La Salle's men wanted to 
land and take the deserters' position by direct assault, but 
he refused his consent. He established himself with half 
his people to guard the shore and sent the rest to land 
farther down and come on the deserters from the rear. 
But darkness closed in. The deserters managed to regain 
their canoe unseen. La Salle's land party, having aban- 
doned its sally on account of darkness, reeinbarked to 
rejoin La Salle. Their canoe met that of the deserters 
in the dark. La SaEe's men ordered the deserters to halt. 
Guns were drawn and fired. Two deserters were killed, 
the remaining three captured and brought back to La Salle 
waiting on shore. These, too, were returned to Fort Fron- 
tenac and put in irons. 

The next day he made an attempt to follow the eight 
said to have taken the south shore route to New York, but 
the winds were against him and thought of Tonty, defense- 
less all this time, goaded* He could wait no longer to start 
West. He sent a sergeant from the fort to post himself on 
the south shore where he thought the other deserters might 
pass, heard tte confessions of the prisoners, drew up a 
statement to be used in their trial, a long tedious document: 
the said La Forge, the said Turcot, and all their deviltry, 
a list of all the loot in all their filthy sacks: "Item, in an- 
other sack belonging to Moyse Hillaret three and one 


eighth ells of cloth of Berry taken by him at the cabin 
above Niagara . . . two wretched handkerchiefs, two 
wretched napkins, five pairs of Indian shoes and one por- 
cupine belt * . " 

He sailed, in the brigantine, it seems, on August 10, 
the Feast of St. Lawrence, anniversary of that day when 
Tonty at the Detroit, waked at sunrise by spray blown 
on an east wind, had seen the Griffin sailing toward him 
over Lake Erie. La Salle, returning now to the West, 
was not following the Griffin' '$ route through Lake Erie, but 
was going instead from the end of Ontario through the 
Humber River, Lake Simcoe and the Severn into the 
Georgian Bay arm of Lake Huron. But since this shorter 
route involved a toilsome thirteen-league portage, he had 
sent his blacksmith, two sailors, two soldiers and a rope- 
maker around by Lake Erie with guns, three hundred 
pounds of powder, oakum, resin, sails, and tools for finish- 
ing his bark. 

As the brigantine sailed along he wrought at a letter 
which must be sent back soon if his friends in France were 
to hear from him by the autumn ships. It would have to 
be a very long letter to get in all the happenings of this 
crowded year, and to answer all the criticisms they had 
written him. He had little facility for writing, knew he 
did it badly, dreaded making mistakes. However, he 
attacked the task, and the part which was already history 
and which he seems to have written in comparative peace 
aboard the brigantine went not too badly: the Illinois, 
Monso's intrigue, Nicanape's tale of horrors down the 
Great River, Fort Crevecceur and the commencement of a 
bark to go down to the sea, the departure of Father Louis 
Hennepin for the upper Mississippi, his own thousand- 
mile journey afoot back to Fort Frontenac. He must have 


written from a pocket diary, for he was able to record 
minutely dates, weather changes, notes on landscape. 

He arrived at the Indian village of Teiagon five days 
after leaving Fort Frontenac and spent a week there getting 
his goods packed over the thirteen leagues to Lake Simcoe. 
Here he met and arrested two more of his deserters, of 
whom one eluded his guard and escaped again directly, 
but the second, one Gabriel Minime or Barbier, declaring 
he had been led astray by La Salle's enemies, asked to be 
pardoned and taken back into La Salle's service. Here, 
too, La Salle met some Pottawatamies from the Green Bay 
country who were able to give him news at last from his 

Two days after she had left the island where La Salle 
had quitted her she had cast anchor in the northern part 
of Lake Michigan where these Indians were encamped. 
There rose out of a profound calm a great wind ah, how 
well La Salle remembered it. Pilot Luke, unable to feel 
its violence in his sheltered position, took it into his head 
that here was the wind favorable for taking him on to 
Michillimackinac and gave his little crew orders to sail. 
The Indians knew there was a great storm raging outside, 
because to their eyes the lake wore far ofi a blanched look 
and they urged him to stay where he was. But Pilot Luke 
laughed at them and said the Griffin was hardly afraid of 
a little wind. He set sail. The wind increased in violence. 
The savages on shore saw the Griffin strike her sails hardly 
a quartet league out and begin to toss frightfully, driven 
out toward the Huron islands. Then the wind redoubled 
and a torrent of rain came down and they saw her no 
more. All winter they heard nothing of her, but last spring 
they had found along the coast two pairs of breeches. 


soiled with tar and torn, and more recently a hatch, an 
end of rope, and some bales of rotting beaver skins. 

La Salle set it down with grim simplicity in his still un- 
finished letter. "Voild, Monsieur, all that has happened 
up to the present in my voyage, which I am going to con- 
tinue In a manner not only to fulfill my obligations to 
Monseigneur Colbert but to satisfy you. You shall have, If 
I am able, some news of It next spring. . . ." From Lake 
Simcoe they descended the Severn into Georgian Bay and 
there turned north. Heavy winds were blowing but they 
moved on In the lee of the long, sheltering chain of Islands. 
La Salle continued his letter as he went, taking It up no 
doubt at each evening bivouac, laboring at It in the flicker- 
ing firelight, a method resulting inevitably in some inco- 
herence and repetition. 

"Monsieur, can you not believe ...?** A long para- 
graph justifying his expenditure of a certain 14,000 livres 
with a list of outlays for wages of men or advances made 
to them, for freight and passage, provisions, ammunition, 
ship fittings, gear and drink for his men. "I have the 
bills . . . and should send you the accounts to date If the 
greater part had not been left at the Illinois. ... I have 
indeed had misfortunes, Monsieur, these two years. , . .** 
Another list: wreck of ships, barks, canoes, desertions, 
thefts, destruction of his forts. "All that, Monsieur, does 
not make me lose courage at all and will only defer for 
a year or two the profits you demand now." He asks 
that workmen be sent him nest year. "The second prayer 
which I have to make to you for your repose and satisfac- 
tion Is that you send out a man on whom you can entirely 
rely. It Is not necessary that he be very learned, but faith- 
ful, tireless, and that he love neither gambling, nor women, 
nor good living because he will find nothing of that with 


me. ... There is need of a man at Quebec. I cannot 
be everywhere," 

He patiently explains why letters have not gone by every 
ship. He has no one with him to make duplicates and trip- 
licates. There is no established post in the country. Even 
sealed letters are not safe from the curiosity of spies. 
Those that get as far as Montreal lie waiting the chance of 
getting carried to Quebec. And then so intent are people 
on their own affairs the letters are often carelessly en- 
trusted and lost. 

He knows he will be blamed for the loss of the Griffin, 
so he frames a long defense with numbered headings. 
No, the way could not have been reconnoitered first by 
canoe, as suggested by analogy, one should "blame those 
who have crossed unknown seas for not sending shallops 
before risking their ships." Barks are absolutely neces- 
sary to his enterprise. He describes all the difficulties of 
transporting heavy equipment by canoe, all the dangers 
off a rocky coast in a lake wind and from hostile savages 
on shore. If his correspondent really wants him to send 
the peltries by Canada instead of by the Mississippi as 
agreed, the way to do it would be, not by the upper lakes 
the difficulties of which Joliet had "in part concealed, 
in part dissimulated" but by "a river which I have 
found," whose headwaters lie near Lake Ontario. He 
could use his new bark for this If the lower Mississippi 
should prove after all unnavigable. They could use horses 
and wagons for the portage through the Seneca country. 
He sketches in detail the establishments which would be 
needed, the possible expenses. 

Once he shall have opened the way to commerce he 
hopes to withdraw, although he knows the trade will be 
highly profitable. But he dislikes to be always on the 


apologetic "a role in which I do not succeed." As to 
the reproach of luxury "Since coining here I have had 
neither valets nor clothes nor cuisine which do not re- 
semble meanness more than luxury." For him the one 
attraction in the life he leads is "honor, of which I believe 
such enterprises are the more worthy the more danger and 
difficulty they contain. Particularly, Monsieur, if you 
wish me to continue, do not make me reply to all the ques- 
tionings and imaginings of priests or Jesuits. They have 
more leisure than I, and I am not cunning enough to antici- 
pate all their chimera." Must he prove that he is not 
crazy? "That is the first thing you should have found out 
before doing business with me. . . . These are insults 
one pardons in monks against whom resentment is useless* 
their profession putting them under cover, but I believe 
you yourself must see that I cannot be too pleased to read 
pages full of this sort of news . . . 

"I am told that you have been upset over my supposed 
marriage." Is this a reference to his shadowy creditor, 
Mademoiselle Aloime of Fort Frontenac? "I had not 
thought of it at the time and I will not engage myself in 
this way until I have given you room for praising me. It 
is a little strange that I should render account of a thing 
which is considered free to all the world." 

He proposes and fully outlines one business arrangement 
after another, any of which will content him if only he 
can satisfy Ms correspondent. For the second and third 
time he urges sending a trustworthy representative in order 
that he may be cleared of these suspicions cropping up at 
every moment. "I have neither the usage nor the inclina- 
tion to keep books nor any one who knows how. 9 * 

"I have written you this letter in more than twenty 
snatches, and I am more than a hundred and fifty leagues 


from where I began It. There remain to me yet two hun- 
dred to arrive at the Illinois; and It Is now past Michael- 
mas. I take with me twenty-five men to the relief of the 
six or seven who remained there with the Sieur de Tonty. 
We shall finish the Bark commenced; but I shall change 
the post, the Illinois wishing that we build near their vil- 
lage. I have not even paper to write Monsieur de Bellin- 
zani. I beg you to make my excuses : the canoe which was 
bringing it to me was lost, and you may well judge by the 
irregularity of this I use for writing you the need I have 
of It. ... I conclude, Monsieur, rather for lack of paper 
than of matter, having yet a hundred things to say to you; 
but it is necessary to get off this canoe if I wish to give 
you my news; It will barely have time to arrive before the 
departure of the vessels, having more than three hundred 
leagues to make in a month of time. . . ." 

At last he signed himself: "Monsieur, your very humble 
and obedient servant De La Salle." 



WHEN Tonty after the wholesale desertion In the spring 
sent off the messengers to carry the news of his plight to 
La Salle, he had left only three men, besides himself and 
the two priests, Father Membre and the aged Father 
Gabriel. He gathered up the forge fittings, tools and what 
furs were left in the storehouse and led his little band to 
the Illinois village up-river. The once empty town was 
now teeming with life, the outlying fields were busy with 
planting. From every hearth smoke curled. Before the 
mat-covered lodges warriors lay with their pipes, women 
dressed and carded the skins of the winter hunt, boys prac- 
ticed archery. The French, expecting La Salle at the end 
of May, settled themselves to pass the time as they could. 
"The Sieur de Tonty never lost courage," according to 
Father Membre. "He kept up his position among the 
Illinois by inspiring them with all the hopes he built on 
the Sieur de La Salle's return or by instructing them in 
the use of firearms." The two priests busied themselves 
at missionary labors all too vain in Father Membre*s 
opinion. They planted a French garden. The end of May 
came and went. La Salle did not come back nor did they 
receive any message or help from him, June went by and 
then July. The air was full of rumors: La Salle was dead; 
the Iroquois were coming to destroy the Illinois, and the 
French were responsible. Toward the last of August the 
wild grapes began to ripen, and the Recollets were able to 



replenish the sacramental wine exhausted since last Jan- 
uary while Crevecoeur was building. 

On a day In September a runner sprang among the 
peaceful rush-covered lodges crying that a great Iroquols 
army was within two leagues of the village. The Illinois 
turned on Tonty with a cry of reproach: "We now see 
plainly that you are the friend of the Iroquols. The 
Frenchmen who told us this were not wrong; now we are 
dead, for the Iroqnois are many and you are their friend." 
He answered: "To prove to you. that I am not the friend 
of the Iroquols I will die to-morrow with you; I will fight 
him with the young men who are with me." 

All that night the Illinois were embarking the old men 
and the women and children to a hiding place down-river. 
La Salle's forge-fittings and tools and beaver-skins were 
flung into the river, or carried away by the refugees to 
keep the Iroquols from getting them. More than half 
the warriors, against Tonty's summer-long insistence, were 
scattered abroad at war and hunt. Few of those who re- 
mained had guns. The village was without palisades or 
walls of any sort. The young men passed the night feast- 
Ing, singing, and dancing to Inspire themselves with cour- 
age to meet the Iroquois on the morrow. 

At morning they crossed the river and marched out into 
the wide plain to meet the enemy advancing from the belt 
of woods along the Big Vermilion River. When the two 
armies were half a league apart, Tonty, who believed the 
Illinois with their bows and arrows no match for the Iro- 
quois with guns, and shields of leather and wood, took a 
single Illinois as companion and went forward, displaying 
in his hand a string of shell-beads, the sign of peace among 
eastern Indians as the calumet among those of the West. 
He was greeted by a volley of musketry from the Iroquois. 


He made his Illinois companion turn back: "Go back. As 
for me, if I die for it, I will speak to the Iroquois to save 
your life." Amazing young man, still unabashed by situa- 
tions for which one would suppose two sound arms the 
minimum requisite! 

The Iroquols did not stop firing as he ran forward, and 
when he reached them, they snatched his beads of truce 
from him. A knife flashed, and lie staggered from a thrust 
near the heart. But then a sort of council ring formed 
around him, some one gave him drink to stem his bleed- 
ing, and through an interpreter he managed a sort of par- 
ley. He chided the invaders sharply for coining to attack 
the Illinois who, he said, were Count Frontenac's children 
like themselves. He felt his hair clutched and knew that 
a scalping knife was near it, but actually he effected an 
armistice. They flung him his beads and sent him off, 
shaky from loss of blood, to cross the plain, ford the river 
and regain the village. 

The two armies after a preliminary skirmish with a 
little bloodshed on both sides had drawn apart, the Illinois 
to retire to their women down-river, and the Iroquois to 
occupy the village. The invaders refreshed themselves 
with die victuals they found, and flung up a rude fort of 
logs and earth into which they made the six white men 
come with them. Two days later the Illinois appeared on a 
hill above the town. The Iroquois pretended to want to 
treat for peace. For days continual negotiations went on. 
The Illinois were visitors in the fort of the Iroquois every 
day. They made each other presents, even returned slaves* 
By night both parties went into the fields to gather corn. 

The position of the French was acutely embarrassing. 
The Iroquois chiefs called Father Membre and Tonty into 
council and placed six packets of beaver-skins before them, 


each accompanied, as the custom was, by its "word." The 
first two packets were to inform Count Frontenac that 
they would not eat his children; the third was a plaster 
for Tonty's wound; the fourth, oil for his and Father 
Membre's travel-weary limbs; the fifth was to point out 
that the sun was bright; the sixth to hint "that we should 
profit by it and depart/' Tonty thought it was the Iroquois 
instead who should depart and demanded roundly when 
they were going. Murmurs arose and some one said, not 
until they had eaten the Illinois. At which Tonty kicked 
their beaver-skin gifts away. The chiefs got up and drove 
him from their presence. Tonty knew that the Iroquois 
had never really intended to make peace with the Illinois, 
that they were at this moment making elm-bark canoes to 
invade die Illinois 9 island sanctuary. Already he had sent 
to warn the Illinois and to urge them to flee while there 
was time. Behind him now as he left the council of angry 
chiefs went up the ominous chanting of Iroquois war-songs. 
That meant, Tonty believed, that he and his French com- 
panions had not long to live. 

Again La Salle led a slow flotilla of canoes down Lake 
Michigan, battling autumn gales. Last fall, parted from 
the Griffin at Green Bay, he had followed the west coast. 
This year he kept to the east. He was not going forward 
in full force as he had hoped to do. In spite of his having 
met unexpected delay at Michillimackinac, he had not 
been overtaken there, as intended, by the blacksmith and 
other men coming by Lake Erie. He had left a detach- 
ment at Michillimackinac to meet them and turry them 
along and he had had to send back, by different routes, two 
canoes with his letters. So he was proceeding now with 
only ten Frenchmen, his two devoted Indian hunters the 


same two Wolf braves, It seems, who had helped In the 
Griffin* s building and his dogs. 

He felt uneasy and depressed, having breathed the 
usual miasma of suspicion and chill among the Jesuits and 
hostile traders of the upper lake settlements. He had been 
told that in the spring before Father Allouez had traveled 
along with the deserters and even blessed their bullets. 
Minime or Barbier, the deserter returned to his duty, de- 
clared that a brother at Sault Ste. Marie had offered him 
a place to hide his goods stolen from La Salle, "and so 
that I may know nothing about it, put them., my child, in 
my chamber when I am not there." At Sault Ste. Marie 
where La Salle had gone first to try to get possession of 
some of his pelts "the good fathers . . . told me, on 
their honor as priests, they did not know at all which be- 
longed to those men.'* True, they had offered to open the 
storehouse under the chapel and let him take what he 
wished, but he, afraid of being excommunicated if he laid 
hand on the property of the Church, had preferred to leave 
empty-handed. At Michillimackinac he had been de- 
layed by the Indians* stubborn refusal to sell him com. 
Were they being "given their cue" as Galinee long ago 
had hinted? La Salle believed so. His messengers sent 
to Tonty's relief had been discouraged from proceeding. 
Rumor had darkened the air: the Illinois had burned 
Tonty; Father Louis Heimepm on the upper Mississippi 
had been hanged to a tree by his own rope girdle; the 
Griffin had not really been lost in a storm but had been 
burned by La Salle's supposed friends, the Pottawatamies; 
the Iroquois were on the war-path against the Illinois. He 
did not know which tales were true and which invented to 
disconcert him, but he was beset by haunting dread of frus- 
tration and failure. 


He reacted the old rendezvous at the mouth of the St. 
Joseph River three days past the anniversary of his first 
arrival there. Were the tall poles with hanging bearskin 
banners still a-rock in the river to remind him of his lost 
Griffin? His log fort he found In ruins as the deserters 
had boasted he should find it. Here he left the heavier 
tools and equipment under guard of half his men and 
the ship-carpenter no use to try to finish the bark on the 
Illinois until the blacksmith should come up and one of 
the two Indian hunters to supply them with food. With 
lightened canoes he and the rest pushed on. 

It took them a week to reach the portage prairie. They 
found the Miami village there, as well as an encampment 
farther on, deserted. They made the two-league portage 
as before, set their canoes afloat in the shallow twisting 
sources of southward waters. After six days they came to 
another deserted Indian encampment. Last year they had 
passed this way, starving. Now game was everywhere 
abundant. The men reveled in hunting and feasting. 
Only La Salle wondered, uneasily, why the Illinois buffalo 
hunters had not burned over the country as usual. But 
not to spoil the general pleasure he kept his fears to him- 
self. When they came to the place where Kankakee waters 
meet those of the Des Plaines he went ashore and made a 
careful search for some sign of Tonty's passing. Finding 
nothing he allowed himself to hope that Tonty was still 
among the Illinois. The great Illinois village was not much 
farther now* He flung off his solitary depression and 
hunted with his men, "We killed twelve cows very fat, 
seven or eight deer, and many turkeys, bustards, swans 
. . * and loaded a canoe with the choicest parts to regale 
Monsieur de Tonty on our arrival." 

It was evening when they reached the village or the 


place where the village had been. The hundreds of arbor- 
like lodges with their covering of well-sewed rush mats 
were gone. All that marked where they had stood were 
the charred stumps of the lodge poles picketed with human 
heads around which crows circled. Picketed skulls 
marked, too, the entry to a rude earth and log fort flung 
up since they had last seen the place. The fort was lit- 
tered with burned bones and bits of French clothing and 
utensils. In the fields the com hung ungathered on 
drled-up stalks or lay in half -burned heaps on the ground. 
The sacred graves had been rifled and the bones of the 
long-buried dead scattered over the plain. The trenches 
in which the Illinois had been in the habit of storing their 
belongings when going away on the hunt were broken 
open, their kettles and pots all shattered* As the new- 
comers stepped gingerly forward, wolves before their 
eyes tore at the dead with strange bowlings, and a cloud 
of screaming crows blotted the evening sky. 

They examined the bodies and the picketed heads with- 
out finding a single white man's among them all. A league 
outside the village on the river-bank they found a French 
garden. Here stood six pointed poles painted red and 
each bearing the picture of a man with bandaged eyes 9 
by which La Salle knew that six men had been killed or 
captured by the Iroquois was it the six Frenchmen? The 
ruins were obviously several weeks old but the covering 
boughs on the shelters in the fort had been renewed only 
three or four days ago* By whom? Iroquois or Illinois? 
Among the wreckage ran fresh tracks of human feet. It 
was very cold that night but they dared not make a fire 
to warm themselves and one after another stood sentry 
while the rest lay down. 

La Salle could not sleep. His mind turned this way and 


that, dashing Itself against obstacles, raising up intolerable 
dreads. And no wonder. Tonty was such a friend as 
no man can hope for more than once in a lifetime* But 
perhaps Tonty was not dead. He might be alive some- 
where awaiting rescue. He might have gone down-river, 
since they had found no mark of his having passed up. 
But if La Salle pushed on to look for him, what about the 
rear party? Suppose the Fort Miami detachment followed 
here as ordered to do when joined by the blacksmith's 
party, what would become of them? 

By morning, however, he had taken his resolution. He 
sealed up the greater part of his things in a rocky cave, 
left three men on a near-by island with strict orders to hide 
their canoes and not to fire their guns. And in mid-after- 
noon with the other three and his Indian hunter he set off 
downstream. In a little while they reached a sandspit 
where the Illinois had first sent their women and children 
in flight before the Iroquois* There were the huts, the 
little parapet of pirogues. 

They searched in vain for some writing or sign of the 
presence of white men. Opposite the Illinois camp the 
Iroquois had planted their tent-like shelters in a row, one 
after another, along the river-bank, a hundred and thirteen 
in all. Evidently they had followed the retreating Illinois. 
On trees in the Iroquois camp were the usual war pictures: 
chiefs and warriors five hundred and eighty-two they 
were in number; one had been wounded by a gunshot and 
nine by arrows; they had captured an Illinois woman and 
taken scalps of eleven more. But there was no evidence 
that they had seen or killed any French. 

It was hitter cold. The marshes were already frozen, 
though the current thus far was keeping the river open. 
They paddled steadily stopping only to sleep or to examine 


one by one those curiously paired camps of pursuer and 
pursued along the opposite banks. Below Lake Peorla they 
came to Crevecceur double-scarred by the destructive fare- 
wells of successively the deserters and the Iroquois. But 
whereas the deserters had flung down the defenses of the 
fort, the savages had contented themselves with drawing the 
nails from the wooden frame of the bark and breaking a 
piece of board, inscribed with the words: Nous sommes 
tons sauvages" and a date. La Salle recognized the 
handwriting of "the Parisian,'* one of the faithful three 
who had stayed with Tonty, but the date being precisely 
what the Iroquois had broken off, he could not know 
whether the letter A stood for April or August, and so 
whether the grim bit or irony was directed at deserters or 
Iroquois. The bark stood strangely unhurt. She could 
easily have been finished in a month with, that is, a forge 
and saws, the ruin of which things they had seen strewn 
plentifully along the path of the Illinois retreat. 

At last, drawing near the Great River, they saw in a 
wide prairie the remains of lodges, and figures like men 
and children, but all motionless. They landed on a bruised 
and trampled plain littered with dead, some prone in the 
scuffed grass, some stuffed into pots left full over fires, 
some those dreadful motionless figures seen afar spitted 
on sticks and roasted standing. The chase was ended. 
Shields hanging on stakes proclaimed the Iroquois victor. 
Still nowhere, could they find a sign of any French, living 
or dead. 

They pushed on to the mouth of the Illinois. After all 
of La Salle's years of passionate striving, the Great River 
ran at last before his eyes. But he gave it scant notice. 
Of latitude, or vegetation, of the steep rock at the mouth 
of the Illinois so suitable for fortifying, of the broad fer- 


tile plain opposite, so inviting for settlers, of the direction 
here of the Great River's course, there Is no mention in his 
narrative of these events* He says only that the date was 
December 7 and Ice was beginning to cover the river. 

"My men proposed to me to go on down to the sea, 
offering to expose their lives to achieve that discovery 
which they knew I had so much at heart." But he refused, 
of course. He buried a store of hatchets and knives and 
other things which Tonty might find useful and wrote a 
letter telling how to find them. Then he lopped the 
branches from a little tree thrusting out from the rock 
where the Illinois entered the Mississippi and nailed to 
It a bit of plank brought along from Crevecceur. On the 
plank he painted a canoe and a calumet sign of peace, and 
from it he hung the letter In the hope that some passing 
friendly savage might deliver it to Tonty. 

They retraced their way up the Illinois. At the devas- 
tated town they were relieved to see their three comrades 
emerge safe and sound from their island hiding place. 
But now the river froze over and they could not go on In 
their canoes. While they waited, hoping for a thaw, they 
harvested the corn on the dried brown stalks in the fields 
of the dead, a strange, unseasonable harvest lit in the 
early dusk by a great comet blazing above the rim of the 
prairie. La Salle wrote a description of the comet for 
scientists at Paris. Christmas found them here. La Salle 
wanted to talk with some Illinois before he left to get 
news of Tonty If possible and to make sure that the Indians 
would not track himself and his men through the snow as 
enemies. He set fire to the logs in the Iroquois fort. A 
thick column of smoke rose to the sky. Last year the smoke 
of a few frost-dried reeds had brought Chief Chassagoac 
from his hunting a day's journey away across the prairie. 


But no one came now to La Salle's signal, although lie 
waited two more days. 

They buried the greater part of their harvested corn for 
later need, loaded twenty bushels along with canoes and 
all their gear on sleds and set off, eight men dragging a 
load of four thousand pounds. At the fork in the river 
La Salle left the canoes and supplies under guard of two 
men and with the rest went on afoot following this time 
the Des Plaines branch instead of the Kankakee to look 
for Tonty's trail. A day's journey above the fork at a 
place where people had camped they found a tiny sign 
the marks of a French saw, soothing to see as a leafy 
sprig after forty days of a world in flood. Some, at least, 
of Tonty's party were alive and perhaps by now safe with 
their comrades at the mouth of the St. Joseph. The thought 
hurried La Salle and his men forward as they turned 
themselves in that direction. 

It snowed hard day after day. They who had known 
Canadian winter had never before suffered so from cold. 
Their way lay across plains where they could scarcely 
find wood enough to make a fire at evening and none at 
all of the sort from which bark could be stripped for 
making shelters. They had to lie down at night in the 
bitter wind that drove across the prairies. They could not 
even use their snowshoes because the snow hung loose and 
soft in the mesh of the tall prairie grass. La Salle, tall 
as he was, sank often to the waist. Walking ahead as 
usual, he found it all he could do to plow out with his body 
a path for his men. 

Tonty was not at the St. Joseph. But the carpenter and 
Ms fellows with gratifying industry were repairing the 
ruined fort and even hewing out planks for a bark to ply 
the lakes in the Griffins stead. And La Forest and the 


three soldiers left at Michillimackinac had come up with 
news that the blacksmith's party were wintering safely at 
the mouth of the Detroit. Moreover, twenty-five or thirty 
New England savages, Mohicans and Abenakis, country- 
men of La Salle's two devoted hunters, had arrived on the 
St. Joseph looking for a place to settle; and La Salle's 
hunters, believing they could be persuaded to take up 
residence beside La Salle's rebuilding fort, began nego- 
tiations with them to that end. The beginning of an es- 
tablishment seemed ready to his hand an establishment 
and perhaps far more: The Miami allegiance to the Iro- 
quois seemed not so firm as before the invasion. The 
Iroquois, returning from the warpath loaded with booty, 
drunk with blood, had not scrupled to lift their hand 
against a lonely hand of Miami hunters. Moreover, a 
hundred Illinois warriors, arrived from a distant expedi- 
tion to find their village laid waste, had pursued the Iro- 
quois in so spirited a manner that the Miamis showed 
stirrings of admiration and friendliness toward the Illinois. 
A Shawnee chief in the Ohio country having heard of La 
Salle's arrival, sent an envoy of friendship to wait on 
him. From these beginnings could he fashion an Indian 
alliance to hold the Iroquois in check and open the West 
for exploration? Out of the devastation of all bis hopes,, 
the old constant purpose began to collect itself. 

He made another trip to the Illinois, overland this time, 
on snowshoes. Fifteen men went with him and his dogs 
barked and leaped before him. The snow was packed 
hard and glazed with sleet. The snowshoes sped over the 
shining leagues. It was beautiful weather. The dogs 
killed all the deer the men could eat. The sunlight on the 
glittering plain gave La Salle and several others a snow- 
blindness, painful in itself but necessitating a halt which 

resulted in their hearing from some hunters of the Fox 
nation news of the tracks of white men toward the north, 
white men keeping themselves alive with elderberries and 
garlic grubbed up out of the snow Tonty's party, surely 
going up toward Green Bay. At the very time La Salle 
had been coming down the east coast of Lake Michigan 
with his loaded canoes, they must have been toiling up the 
west. Moreover, Father Louis Hennepin, whom report 
had hanged by his own rope of St. Francis, was, with his 
two companions, safe in the upper lake settlements. 

The news, not fully reassuring, was yet heartening. The 
ice in the Illinois River was melting when they came there, 
At the ruined town ten returned Illinois first took alarm 
and started to flee, but on recognizing La Salle, remained 
eagerly enough to recount to him the tale of their defeat. 
He made them a little present to console them for their 
griefs, talked to them of that peace he wished to establish 
between them and the Miamis, and urged them to recall 
their scattered tribes from the woods. He loaded his 
canoes with a hundred bushels of com and set off up-river. 
At the fork he sent a canoe up the Des Plaines to Tonty's 
relief, gathered up the men and supplies left here on the 
earlier trip, and turned up the Kankakee, 

At the mouth of the St. Joseph once more, he sowed seeds 
in the warming earth: French corn, Indian com, peas, 
beans, cabbage. Axes rang in the new clearings. Leaving 
his men busy on the fat land, he went up the St. Joseph 
to the Miami village. The New England savages with 
whom negotiations had been begun many weeks earlier, 
were there ahead of him but not yet sure they wanted to 
settle in this strange prairie country with few trees and 
no beaver. Meeting them in council La Salle spoke to 
them of the great herds of buffalo ranging the plains, the 


abundant fishing, the richness of the soil, the cheapness of 
European goods once he should have opened the way 
through the Great River, and by the helpful diplomacy of 
his two faithful hunters he brought them to his mind. 

The next day he met the Miamis in grand council. It 
was full spring. All the mats had been lifted from the 
roof and sides of the chief's house so that the assembled 
crowds could hear the orators. La Salle rose. Below the 
village spread the greening portage prairie unrolled like 
a map, with the tree-bordered St. Joseph on the left hand 
and far off on the right the glistening sources of those south- 
ward waters 1 he had so long wanted to follow. He could 
see them shining in the sun: silver pool beyond silver pool 
held in a mesh of new marsh grass aswirl with wild ducks 
and swans. He launched the parley with swinging bold- 
ness. First a gift of tobacco to clear the minds of his 
hearers. Then a spreading length of beautiful blue cloth 
to hide the poor slain bodies of their kindred and turn 
the eyes of the living toward the sky today so serene and 
clear. On and on twenty capotes, fifty hatchets, neck- 
laces, bracelets, anklets, rings and bells and paints, thirty 
swordblades thrust into the earth to make an iron, fence 
around their sacred dead. 

"See there, my brothers, our duty to the dead is done. 
. . . But I mean to do more I will bring them to life 
again. Ouabicolcata was the chief of them all. Believe 
no more that he is dead. I have his mind and his soul 
in my own body. I make his name live again. I am an- 
other Ouabicolcata. I shall take the same care of his fam- 
ily that he took in his lifetime. ... He is dead no more, 
te lives, and his family shall want for nothing. His soul 
has entered into the body of a Frenchman who has in 
abundance all that you need. 5 * He flung down another 


splendid red cloth. The applause was overwhelming. He 
had to pause while it spent itself. Three kettles in which 
to feast chief Ouabicolcata's resurrection, and for his 
kinsmen: twenty capotes, twenty shirts, twenty blankets., a 
chest of knives and hatchets. His eleventh present was 
six guns: a See, here is an affair of great consequence, my 
brothers. He who is the master of my life and of this 
land is a great captain* He is powerful. He loves peace. 
. . . He is the king of France, greatest of all rulers over- 
seas. . . . That one who represents him at Quebec is 
called Onontio. He loves all the nations. ... So live in 
peace with your neighbors. The Illinois Is one of them. 
. . . Let the New England braves take the place of the 
Miami dead. Receive them as your brothers. . . * 9 

The delighted Miamis, hailing him as Ouabicolcata, 
abandoned themselves in their turn to eloquence, gift- 
making and a three day feast and dance. The Western 
alliance was begun. 

Toward the end of May La Salle traveled up Lake Mich- 
igan to Michilliznackinac, arriving there on Corpus 
Christi Day just one day later, by happy chance, than 
Tonty's party from Green Bay. He would be long in hear- 
ing the sum of their "tragical adventures," but he could see 
with one glance that Father Gabriel was missing. The Iro- 
quois had sent them away up the Illinois with BO supplies 
and a rotten canoe. On the first day of their flight while 
they had stopped to patch their wretched leaky vehicle, the 
good old man had gone aside into a grove to pray and 
had been taken and scalped by, they thought, a wandering 
band of Kickapoos. It was the only one of their woes 
beyond relief. All the rest, from the bitter starving journey 
up the west shore of Lake Michigan to Tonty's cruel ill- 
ness, had been compensated by a winter's rest and feed- 


ing, Tonty and the men from the food-pots of the friendly 
Pottawatamies and Father Membre from the Jesuits' table. 
And now, seeing La Salle as determined as ever to explore 
his river, neither the iron-handed Tonty nor the admiring 
Father Membre thought once of not standing by him. So 
ail three set off east to fetch the supplies they must have 
for the journey. 



FORT FRONTENAC again and again Montreal Hie old 
need of money and supplies to be wrung from increasingly 
hostile merchants. The Issuance of trading permits, the 
one means left to him for getting credit now. A mortgage 
on Fort Frontenac. A will In favor of La Salle's kinsman 
Plet who, come from Paris on purpose, had kept that post 
from falling Into the hands of Ms enemies. A note to 
Mademoiselle Madeleine Alonne for 2,141 livres. The 
year's batch of reproaches and criticisms from Paris. Even 
the king was getting tired of La Salle and his river: "I have 
seen up to the present slight success in the enterprise of 
the Sleur de La SaU.e**; and by post-script a regal knuckle- 
rap for the trading permits La Salle was issuing "under 
pretext of that discovery.* 9 He had Duchesneau to thank 
for that. The privilege of trade In the countries La Salle 
should discover had been explicitly granted him. But 
after the testimony of the deserters, charging that the furs 
on the Griffin had come out of the forbidden Ottawa coun- 
try, Duchesneau had virtuously collected evidence of La 
Salle's dishonesty. This summer Duchesneau was saying 
and writing the king that La Salle had caused the 
Iroquois war by carrying arms to the Illinois. 

Father Louis Hennepin, now at Quebec, was about to 
sail for France with a cock-and-bull story of captivity in 
the Sioux country and rescue by Du Lhut, captain of the 
coureurs de bois. Impossible it was to foresee what harm 



Father Louis 9 gossipy chatter could do; and certainly La 
Salle was far from guessing that the lying friar would 
one day claim to have already explored the Mississippi 
to its mouth. But Father Louis' impending visit to France 
filled him with a vague uneasiness. And this Du Lhut 
was he not encroaching on La Salie's uncharted Louisiana, 
a rival for its trade and discovery? Statedly he had been 
looking for the Pacific just west of Lake Superior the 
ancient quest when he had "rescued" Father Louis. He 
had the protection of Count Frontenac whose undivided 
favor La Salle had formerly enjoyed. Here in Canada 
the merchants were bitterly envious of La Sailers western 
monopoly. He felt ringed about by enemies. A reference 
to his "friends'* now drew from him a sharp rejoinder: 
"I do not know who they are, recognizing none at all in 
this country ... I except nobody." 

But at last his business in Canada was done all but 
his letters. He faced west again, writing as he went. How 
he hated it "I have been vexed with myself for having 
undertaken a thing which entailed so much writing." 
Answering the year's reproaches one by one^ explaining 
that he had not neglected to write but that many of his 
letters had gone astray: those at the entry to Lake Erie two 
years ago, his brother had intercepted or mis-sent; those 
committed to the Griffin were of course lost; last summer's 
batch sent back by canoe had wintered on the way, arriving 
only lately at Fort Frontenac. "Monsieur, it seems that 
the winds and the seasons have conspired with my 
enemies . . ." Explaining he had been in the West in 
pursuit of his exploration, and not in flight from his credi- 
tors as maliciously rumored. Explaining his losses, ex- 
plaining the desertions, explaining and this was bitterest 
his own secret heart. How was a man like him to be 


"popular" as the Abbe Bemou exhorted? How a make 
merry" with Ms men a rollicking greenwood phrase for 
debauches the good abbe was surely far from Imagining. 
But as to his not conversing with his men, "How could 
I not talk with them, having no other company at all?'* 

At the Indian village of Telagon he was still at It. The 
Indians swarmed about him y clamorous., insistent. If 
they were to make his portage for him he must stop his 
letter-writing and cajole them with those blandishments 
which he had learned to employ so much more adroitly 
than this unwilling quill. As he bent over the page the 
drying leaves above his head shook In a wind that had 
an edge of chill In It. It was almost autumn again. He 
would soon be thirty-eight. It was thirteen years since he 
had glimpsed through tangled Indian speech the glint of 
a far mysterious river and set off to find and follow It. 
Beyond Telagon he wrote no more. He was once more 
making his way down Lake Michigan by the time Count 
Frontenac at Quebec was writing the king: 

"The last Intelligence I had, Sire, from the Sieur de 
La Salle was to the< effect that despite all the ob- 
stacles thrown In his way and the misfortunes he had 
encountered, he still was in a position to accomplish his 
discovery, and that if he were a living man he would 
proceed next spring to the South Sea, and return with 
the news thereof the ensuing autumn." 

He reached the mouth of the St. Joseph a little before 
Christmas. Tonty and Father Membre and most of the 
party had arrived several weeks earlier. Some of Tonty's 
men were scattered abroad hunting. But La Salle, hoping 
they would join the party along the way took measures 
for immediate departure. He had brought with Mm a 


notary from Fort Frontenac to draw up official instruments 
of events of importance; and a young clerk by trade who, 
being a newcomer in the country, was able to scribble 
his impressions with considerable freshness. This youth- 
ful clerk, though not related to the explorer, bore the 
same name and was known to the men as "Little Monsieur 
de La Salle." Among the veterans was that Minime or 
Barbier who had once deserted but was now utterly loyaL 
From the New England Indians settled near the fort La 
Salle engaged eighteen recruits among the savage names 
ring oddly one "Captain Glance" and one "Onontio" at a 
price of a hundred beaver skins apiece, and agreed that 
they might take along ten of their women to cook for 
them, three children, and, it seems, their dogs. 

The St. Joseph was frozen fast, but the lake was still 
open, and La Salle had hopes that the Chicago and Des 
Plaines rivers might be. So Tonty and Father Membre 
and most of the people hurried off by canoe westward 
along the lake-shore; while La Salle, unable to spare a 
garrison for the little post here, lingered behind with a few 
men to make caches and bury all the equipment they could 
not take along. A few days later they set off on foot 
through the snow and overtook Tonty near the Chicago 
portage. These rivers were frozen, too. So they stopped 
to make sleds and then started south dragging their bag- 
gage along the ice. As they went down the Illinois they 
were joined by the hunters, as La Salle had hoped, and the 
party was now complete twenty-three white men and 
eighteen Indians, not counting women and children. 

They passed the old Illinois village and "the Rock" 
which La Salle still hoped one day to fortify, and Lake 
Peoria where they had wintered two years before. Below 
the ruined Fort Crevecceur the river was partly open. 


They were able to abandon the sleds, make elmbark 
canoes, and go forward more easily. They reached the 
Great River on February 6* It was full of drifting ice and 
they waited a few days to see if it would clear. The 
Indians made more elmbark canoes. The men fished, 
pulling in one catfish so enormous, Tonty declares, that it 
furnished supper for twenty-two men. 

La Salle noted the chief landmarks and the course of the 
Great River and took his observations. For finding his 
latitude he had his astrolabe not the elaborate "mathe- 
matical jewel 59 of the astronomers, surely, but the simpler 
mariners' astrolabe, a circular brass affair thickened at the 
bottom to make it hang true, with a ring at the top to slip 
over his thumb or a convenient tree limb, a movable Index 
with sights through which he could squint at the sun, and 
a rim graduated to degrees. But not to minutes, since the 
size of the instrument limited each degree to the space of 
something like a tenth of an inch. This awkward and 
none-too-accurate astrolabe, or a cross-staff like Galinee's 
similarly incapable of minute graduation, and some form 
of zodiacal tables showing the sun's north or south position 
for the calendar date, were the only means then available 
to any explorer for fixing latitude; and consequently any 
estimate of less than a degree was practically guess-work. 

For finding longitude he had no instrument anything 
like so good. He knew, of course, about how many hours' 
difference in time there was between Europe and America, 
but to measure that difference in hours and minutes to a 
given point was another matter. A proper seagoing time- 
keeper was still uninvented. The longitude of Quebec aftei 
all these years was not yet certain. Such New World 
maps as existed were filled with longitudinal errors. Like 
every other explorer he had his compass, of course, and 


tables for checking up on how far east or west of the Pole 
star the needle should point in a given latitude; but the 
variation of that needle defied tabulation. And, like most 
seasoned travelers, La Salle depended a lot on dead reck- 
oning. The common tendency still was to stretch out the 
known and diminish the unknown. Columbus long ago 
after crossing the Atlantic had believed himself almost at 
Asia. La Salle, now at the place where the Illinois enters 
the Mississippi, by estimating that Montreal was forty- 
three leagues west of Quebec, Fort Frontenac sixty-one 
leagues west of Montreal, and so on, concluded that the 
spot where he stood must be about thirty-nine degrees west 
of lie Percee, one-hundred-and-four degrees west of La 
Rochelle, "and therefore nearly as far west as Mexico." 

On February 13 the new elmbark canoes slipped out 
among the floating ice-cakes and pointed their noses down- 
stream. The first day they made six leagues and slept at 
the mouth of a vast river on the right "Emissourita, 
abounding in nations." Great as the Great River itself, 
it hurled its tawny flood against the opposite bank. It 
came out of the west and had, the Indians said, many vil- 
lages along its banks, a great mountain beyond its source, 
and beyond all, a sea. Below the Missouri the Great River 
appeared to the travelers more like mud than river water. 
Water they drew up to drink left three fingers of thick 
mud in the pail when it had settled. 

They made their way downstream by easy stages, once 
stopping to leave a present of knives and glass beads in 
an Indian village from which all the inhabitants were away 
on the hunt, now camping for several days on some high 
wooded bank to hunt for deer or turkeys. Forty leagues 
down on their left they came, in an hour of sunset, to the 
River Ohio. The chroniclers all noted it down in their 


journals: It comes from the east, flowing from, behind the 
Iroquois and is their watery war path to the southward 
tribes. And La SaUe's clerkly namesake, "Little Mon- 
sieur de La Salle," listening eagerly no doubt to the 
Canadians' legends of their leader's youth, wrote, "Of this 
river . . . the belief had been held that by following it 
a passage to China might be discovered." 

And now they came to flooded country, mile after mile 
of cane brakes and cypress forests of Incredible height, all 
drowned with muddy water and thick foam swirling among 
rushes. The thin canoes were beset by drifting fallen 
timbers. The travelers had nowhere to camp by night and 
no chance to hunt by day. They fasted, suffered rain and 
headwinds, and Tonty's canoe struck a snag hidden In the 
mud-clouded water. But then the sun came out and they 
came to bluffs and high, dry hills. They landed on the left 
bank and the Indian hunters killed seven deer to break 
their fast. Tonty gathered a hatful of wild beans from 
vines as thick as his arm, and the Indian women scattered 
abroad to glean half a bushel more. A man named Prud- 
homrne, an armorer who had never been hunting In his life, 
plunged merrily off Into the woods shouting: "I mean 
to make a name for myself." La Salle called after him 
not to get lost. But that evening when the other hunters 
came into camp this Prudhomme and one Indian were 
missing. La Salle, fearing they had been captured, sent 
searching parties In every direction and set about building 
a fort. 

The searching parties found footprints of savages every- 
where, beaten paths, and even a hunting-lodge from which 
savages took flight. Barbler with two Wolf Indians was 
able to capture two and bring them Into camp Chickasaws 
they were, with strange towering brows flattened by 


weights from the time of birth and speaking an unknown 
tongue. They told La Salle, by that sign language which 
all Indians knew how to employ, that their villages were 
distant but a day or so from the river. La Salle., hoping 
to find Prudhomme there, took half his men and merchan- 
dise for a sort of ransom and set off across country with 
the two Chickasaws. But when he had traveled two days 
they owned to him that their villages were still three days 
farther on. Disappointed and vexed he sent one of the 
Chickasaws on with the presents to ransom Prudhomme If 
he were being held captive; and keeping the other "a little 
elderly man and very resolute/ 9 with him, he turned back 
to the new fort Prudhomine they had named it. Then the 
lost armorer, after an absence, of nine days came, on a raft 
he had contrived, drifting along the Great River, starving, 
of course, but otherwise unharmed; and on March 5 the 
expedition got under way again. 

Some days later, wearied with league upon league of 
canebrake where it was impossible to enter the woods to 
camp or hunt, they were startled to hear through a thick 
fog, war-cries and the beating of a drum on their right. 
The little old Chickasaw told them the sound came from an 
Arkansas village on the bank of the river. So far, except 
for the two Chickasaws, they had "met no man." La Salle 
promptly landed on the opposite bank and had his men fell 
trees and throw up a hasty entrenchment. Tonty went out 
along a little point to reconnoiter. The fog lifted and he 
could plainly see the village across the river but, the river 
being very broad, he was unable to make himself heard 
there by shouting. A pirogue put out from the village and 
when it came in range let fly a tentative arrow is it peace 
you want or fighting? La Salle went down the bank with a 
calumet in his hand. The pirogue drew inshore and the 


deputies landed. After due ceremonies of smoking to- 
gether, presents exchanged, envoys sent back and forth 
across the river, the travelers Frenchmen, Chickasaw 
hostage, New England braves, women, children, dogs con- 
sented to leave their entrenchment and visit the village. 

A sweet breath was In the air. The peach-trees were in 
bloom. Between the lodges of **a bark like cedar" ran 
flocks of tamed geese and turkeys. The naked children 
hung modestly In the door of the guest house without enter- 
ing to annoy the visitors. The men and women were 
friendly and kind, of a gay humor, pleasantly different 
from the morose and taciturn northern tribes. They were 
kind even to the little old Chickasaw, their enemy, and they 
generously plied the travelers with dried plums and per- 
simmons and a drink made of sweet raisins crushed In 
water. An Illinois slave of the Arkansas acted as Inter- 
preter and the occasion was marked by mutual offering 
of high ceremony. La Salle had a column squared and 
painted with a cross and the arms of the king, and having 
marched his men under arms three times around the trodden 
square in the midst of the village, planted the column 
with musket fire, shouts of "Vive le Roi" and chanting of 
the Te Deum. Then standing by the column, his commis- 
sion in his hand, he filled his lungs with the warm air sweet 
as that of the Norman orchards of his youth and In a loud 
voice took possession of this "country of Louisiana 5 * in the 
name of his king at that hour perhaps dragging a heap 
of yellow louis d*or across a green baize table with a 
croupier's rake. 

The Arkansas listened intently when Father Membre ex- 
plained the mysteries of redemption, and he, seeing them 
caress the column with its painted cross delightedly Inferred 
that they understood and relished his teaching a little. The 


chiefs honored Monsieur de La Salle by the calumet dance; 
an elaborate ritual requiring poles set up in the square as 
for drying linen, all hung with rich skins as presents; two 
great feathered calumets; gourds full of pebbles; and 
drams made of dressed skin stretched on earthen pots. The 
warriors sang in turn to the chime of the gourd rattles. And 
then each struck a planted pole with his head-breaker and 
chanted his gallant achievements and made gifts to Mon- 
sieur de La Salle. The French, "except Monsieur de La 
Salle/' struck the pole, too, related their valorous deeds 
and made presents out of their little store of European 
goods. When, on the fourth day, the travelers departed, 
their hosts gave them two of their men to serve as guides 
to their allies downstream and finally went with them to the 
water's edge and passed their hands over their bodies in a 
farewell caress. 

A second Arkansas village the travelers found emptied 
for the hunt. At a third they were welcomed as they had 
been at the first. La Salle had now outdistanced Joliet. 
His discovery unfolded league by winding league. It must 
have seemed to him sometimes like a journey in a dream. 
The river twisted so they often seemed to advance hardly at 
all. And yet the Great River was carrying them down- 
stream day after day. All the bottom lands were in flood. 
The world was a wilderness of impenetrable gigantic cane 
and drowned forests sheeted with water as far as they could 
see. There was a moon. Sometimes they paddled at night 
and rested at morning on some island of high ground. 
Sometimes they sought hills beyond the flooded bottoms to 
camp on. Below the Arkansas they began to see alligators, 
some of them fifteen or twenty feet long. Monsieur de La 
Salle killed one, which they skinned and ate in spite of its 
somewhat musky flavor. 


After eighty leagues the Arkansas guides told them they 
were near to the nation of the Arkansas 7 allies, the Tensas. 
They landed, and Tonty, with an Arkansas and Prndhorsaine 
and the Indian named Captain Glance, shouldered a bark 
canoe and crossed a neck of land to the crescent-shaped 
lagoon on which the Tensas lived. Night came on as they 
were paddling across this lagoon. Nearlng the other shore 
in the dark, the Arkansas Began to sing. Whereupon wel- 
coming torches drew near the lake-shore. Landing, Tonty 
had the surprise of his life. Impressions crowded thick in 
the torch-light: palisades, clay walls, domed roofs thatched 
with neat cane mats, even a temple with watch towers, red- 
painted doors, and, high above, three carved eagles. In- 
side the chiefs house a forty-foot room an enormous 
torch of bundled, dry canes in the middle lit couches, paint- 
ings, delicately wrought cane mats, vessels of glazed earth- 
enware. The chief sat on a couch, his wives beside him, 
surrounded by sixty elders in white robes woven of thread 
of mulberry bark. One of the chiefs wives wore a necklace 
of pearls. There were evidences of elaborate etiquette: 
a child might not pass between the chief and the great torch; 
no one could drink from the chiefs cup or eat from his 
plate; when he spoke the women cried "O-o-o-o" before 
answering him. They had a form of sun worship. In the 
temple were a sort of altar and a secret tabernacle of, sup- 
posedly, stored treasures. The chief declared he would go 
to visit Monsieur de La Salle. 

Tonty returned to La Salle in great excitement. After 
him came twenty pirogues bearing food: corn, salt, dried 
fruits, pulp of the locally esteemed persimmon molded Into 
figurines: men, cattle, deer, alligators, turkeys. So plenti- 
ful were the provisions that a hungry Frenchman could 
have a pullet for an awl or a needle. Next came the chiefs 


master of ceremonies and six men to clear the way where 
the chief should pass and to spread down for him a wrought 
cane mat. At last to the sound of drums and women's 
voices singing came the chief himself preceded by attend- 
ants with white feather fans and burnished copper plates. 

La Salle, steeped in the De Soto relations, must have felt 
himself traveling straight Into those romantic pages. 
Father Membre was sure a people so civilized could easily 
be brought to the true faith. Tonty got the pearls of the 
chiefs wife for ten yards of blue glass beads. All the white 
men yielded to a sort of enchantment. To Canadian eyes, 
that early spring was magic: young shoots springing up in 
the Indians' fields, the woods starred with bloom huckle- 
berry, dogwood, yellow jasmin, swamp azalea. They did 
not know the names of half they saw: the glossy leaved 
magnolia cupping great close buds, the coral-berried yau- 
pon sacred to Indians, the cypress towering a hundred feet 
before it branched; but they scribbled lyric lists of what 
they recognized: palm, bay-berry, laurel, peach, plum, mul- 
berry. And the spell of the warm South was by now en- 
folding them all. 

But, oddly, La Salle, questioning the partially civilized 
Tensas, was able to get from them information of no higher 
order than the old fables elicited by Cartier and Champlain 
long ago in Canada. Salt water lay vaguely toward the 
setting sun. Asked if it could not be reached, too, by go- 
ing down the river, the Tensas shook their heads, indicating 
they had never been there and knew nothing of the matter. 
How they had got their salt they did not disclose. They 
mentioned evil tribes farther down who would certainly 
destroy the travelers. Indeed the Arkansas guides flatly 
refused to accompany them farther. La Salle took his 
bearings here and found the latitude was thirty-one degrees. 


He had long been noting the absence of any considerable 
river on his left. The hunters had reported that at a day's 
journey inland all the brooks and streams flowed east. He 
strove to fit his observations and reckonings to such maps 
as he had and to the old accounts of De Soto's erratic 
flounderings back and forth across this country. Reason- 
ing that De Soto's horses could never have got through the 
thick cane brakes alongside the Mississippi, and that such 
flooded lowlands could never have been habitable to the 
hordes dwelling in De Soto's day northward from Man- 
villa and Espiritu Santo Bay, he conjectured another con- 
siderable river east of him, probably flowing into that bay. 
He no longer expected the Mississippi to empty there. In 
his maps the northern Gulf Coast generally lay along the 
thirtieth parallel and Espiritu Santo or St. Esprit Bay even 
higher. Being now at the thirty-first parallel, with the coast 
still indefinitely distant, he concluded, correctly enough, 
that the Mississippi was bringing them out west and south 
of the Spaniards 9 Bay of the Holy Ghost. But how far west 
and how far south? On the maps of Sanson, the king's 
geographer, the Bay of Espiritu Santo showed far to the 
west of its true position; and La Salle had no means to de- 
tect the error. The first considerable river shown west of 
St. Esprit was Rio Escondido, the Hidden River, eastward 
flowing, emptying through the west coast, well below the 
place where the shore line took its southward dip. La 
Salle studied his maps and wondered. Were Mississippi 
and Escondido one? Should the Mississippi take at last an 
eastward turn and its mouth prove to be in a latitude below 
any assignable to the upper Gulf Coast as shown on the 
maps, he was prepared to believe that they were. 

Some days below the Tensas the little flotilla of elmbark 
canoes ran full upon a great fishing camp of more than a 


hundred savages disconcertingly ready -with war-cry and 
flourish of arrows and headbreakers. But La SaUe's tactics 
of swerving to the opposite bank and sending over an envoy 
with a calumet and presents were again successful. The 
fishermen were Natchez and their villages lay upon the hills 
three leagues inland. La Salle and half his men went to 
visit the Natchez and found them an agreeable people with 
customs half -civilized, like the Tensas, although their ene- 
mies. He set up there a second column with the king's 
arms. Father Membre considered La Salle's skill in man- 
aging these Indians, who had never seen a white man be- 
fore, little short of marvelous. 

The Natchez' allies, the Coroas, ten leagues southward in 
fine corn-lands., they found to be of a strain, also similar 
to the Tensas, speaking a different language but wearing 
white cloth of mulberry and living in domed, windowless 
lodges lit by bundled canes and adorned with shining cop- 
per plates. A great beaten road led from the river bluff 
to the Coroa villages. They had a public square as large 
as the place in front of the Palais Royale at Paris, smooth 
and level for their games and dances. The Coroas told 
the travelers they had ten days' paddling ahead to reach the 
sea. But Joliet, of course, had been told at the Arkansas 
that the sea was only five days off. It was Easter Day. 
The white men made their devotions under Father Mem- 
bre's care and, leaving the little old Chickasaw behind them 
here, once more set off. 

Rains. Flooded country. Camping on platforms built 
of gigantic polished swamp cane. Now and then a deer- 
hunt on an island in the river. One little river on the 
east. The sudden sight of nine pirogues down the west 
bank. Indian fishermen startled into flight, leaving behind 
a basket containing a fish, a man's foot, a child's hand, all 


smoke-dried. War-cries and drum-beats. Hasty entrench- 
ment and the usual envoy sent out, but not with the usual 
result: The Quinipissas loosed their arrows at strangers 
bearing the calumet. Fortunately no one was hurt. u The 
Sieur de La Sale who wanted to fight with no one'* with- 
drew his people promptly. Below this place they came to 
a village recently devastated. Five great lodges were 
stuffed with dead bodies. Tonty says the Hood was ankle- 
deep. The rest of the village had been burned. The river- 
bank was strewn with pirogues chopped to bits with flint 
axes. There were green mulberries on the trees. 

The Mississippi amid minor windings shaped a southeast 
course. Natives declared they got salt from a sea to the 
east. Live oaks and long mosses. A certain slow ebbing 
and swelling under the elmbark canoes no son of Rouen 
could mistake that tide coming up the river. Every morn- 
ing a sea fog floating in upon them and always, it seemed., 
from the east. In the evening sea-birds settling to roost in 
tree branches. At last., says La Salle's clerkly namesake, 
"we saw from a distance what looked like great prairies. 
Coming near we saw the flooded land covered with reeds 
. * . three leagues farther we found a little cluster of 
aspens where we encamped. Some Frenchmen climbed 
trees and said they saw in the distance a great bay." The 
river separated into three channels. It was April 6. La 
Salle divided his people into* three bands under the leader- 
ship of Tonty, himself and the Sieur D'Autray, and they 
set out to explore the three passes. 

Between the channels spread widening stretches of marsh 
grass where sea-birds circled: white crows, red herons, and 
an unknown bird with duck's feet and a long bill. La 
Salle noticed that the pass he was following ran between 
natural causeways or dikes flung up by the current of the 


river. At last he came to open water. He tasted It and 
declared It brackish although some of his men at first dis- 
agreed with him. La Salle took his bearings with the 
astrolabe. They crossed to a little island and caught up 
a crab shell and an oyster shell. Back at the fork of the 
passes the other two parties also reported fine channels. 
"I went by the middle one/' says Tonty, "and found at two 
leagues out salt water and open sea." In another account 
he mentions alligators and a tree-covered island which he 
had been unable to run out to on account of the wind. They 
camped above the fork for several days, returning, Tonty 
says, several times to inspect the passes. Judging from the 
map which was to record their observations, they ex- 
amined, too, yet another outlet of the Great River, a certain 
bayou entering the Gulf far to the west of the main channel. 

La Salle, according to Father Membre and Tonty, kept 
to himself his findings with the astrolabe; but, in the record 
which the notary drew up on the spot for everybody to sign, 
the latitude of the mouth is written down twenty-seven de- 
grees, the same as that given on the maps for the mouth of 
Rio Escondido. Either "all the maps are worth nothing or 
the mouth of the River Colbert is near to Mexico," La Salle 
argued, "because it has its mouths east-southeast and not 
south like all the southern coast of Florida except that 
which on the maps run from Escondido down to PanucoJ" 
He felt convinced that Escondido and Mississippi were one; 
and, his eye on the maps, he reckoned his position at no 
mare than a hundred leagues above the northernmost coast 
settlement of the Spanish at the mouth of the Panuco, in 
the same meridian of longitude with it, and Tonty men- 
tions about eighty leagues from Ste. Barbe, treasure 
house of New Spain. 

They hewed out a great rough column, fixed on it the 

The Illinois country, showing: Fort St. Louis on the Illinois 

River, built after La Salle's return from the mouth of the 

Mississippi and the various Indian tribes whom he gathered 

about him there. 

The mouth of the Mississippi, with the passes carefully 

mapped and the beginning and end of Cfc the western mouth" 

(Bayou La Fourche) sketched in. 




king's arms cast from the copper of a kettle, planted the 
column and a cross near by and buried in the ground a 
leaden tablet bearing an inscription claiming the discovery 
in the name of their king. They fired their guns, cried 
"Vive le Roi" chanted the Te Deum y the Exaudia f the 
Domine salvum fac Regem. Then the Sieur de La Salle 
with a paper in his hand stepped up beside the rough-hewn 
column and lifted his voice. 

To him perhaps there was no irony in his single voice 
crying his triumph into the warm moist emptiness. He 
fancied it, of course, as it should echo in Quebec and Paris. 
His discovery is accomplished. He has found the mouth 
of his river. The river is mightier than his most extrava- 
gant dreams have pictured it. Through the lands in which 
Ponce de Leon and Narvaez and De Soto and so many more 
have perished he has come without the loss of a man. His 
enemies are answered. His friends can soon be repaid. 
The heart of a continent is open for rich and powerful 
colonies. Along the river stand all the timbers needed for 
ship-building. There is not a sault or a rapid all the way 
to the sea. The lands on either hand are filled with natural 
riches vast plains all ready to be planted to grain, entire 
forests of mulberry trees, vines, fruits, dye woods, guins 
as fragrant as the finest pastilles of France, to say nothing 
of prodigious quantities of game, buffaloes, stags, hinds, 
bears, otters, lynxes. It is a land of generally docile, 
partly civilized tribes. Westward lie the Spaniards' fabu- 
lous mines of gold and silver. Westward, too, open many 
rivers. Through one of them perhaps La Salle will find 
the water route to western seas which men have sought so 
long. Anything can happen now. He has come to the 
mouth of his river. 

"In the name of the most high, mighty, invincible and 


victorious Prince, Louis tie Great, by the grace of God 
King of France and of Navarre, fourteenth of that name, 
this ninth day of April, one thousand six hundred and 
eighty-two " 

The first colony he will set near the mouth of the river, 
not here where the ground is flat and subject to overflow, 
but higher up on high, dry ground. 

"I, in virtue of the commission of his Majesty which I 
hold in my hand and which may be seen by all whom it may 
concern, have taken and do now take, in the name of his 
Majesty and of his successors to the crown, possession 


Once more he must travel the old bitter way by the Lakes 
and the St. Lawrence. But only once. And he has plenty 
of time. April is just started and the last ships leave Que- 
bec as late as All Saints' Day. At Quebec, he will report 
to his friend the governor, Count Frontenac. Then France 
and Colbert. He will ask the king for a ship to come back 
by sea with people for his colony. Once the way by sea is 
open, he will be through forever with snow and ice and the 
envies of Canadian tradesmen and priests. His lot will lie 
among palms and laurels and sweet-smelling gums and 
moist airs. 

"This country of Louisiana, the seas, harbors, ports, 
bays, adjacent straits; and all the nations, people, prov- 
inces, cities, towns, villages, mines, minerals, fisheries, 
streams and rivers " 

His voice rolled the sonorous syllables out across empty 
acres of marsh grass where gulls swung faintly screeching. 
Over his head the mosses in the silent live-oaks stirred in a 
languorous Gulf breeze. 



LA SALLE at the mouth of the Mississippi on April 9, 1682, 
supposed he should certainly be making his report to 
Count Frontenac, the governor, at Quebec before the ships 
of the autumn sailed, and to Colbert, the king's minister, 
in Paris before the year was out. But, as he had once 
written the Abbe Bernou, things are "very different In 
speculation from what one finds tbem in practice. 5 * To 
begin with, It was no light matter to breast the current of 
the great river in flood. And they began the return journey 
starving. Some smoke-dried meat which they chanced on 
and found delicate to taste, they were unable to eat after 
the Indians in the party had pronounced It^%uman flesh. 

They lived as they could on wild potatoes and alligator 
meat and In their hunger made overtures again to the un- 
friendly Qulnipissas when they came near to them. But 
the Quinipissas attacked them by night with a volley of 
arrows. Thanks to their guns, La Salle's men saved their 
own lives, but they killed two Quinipissas and that nearly 
got them Into trouble higher up with the Coroas and 
Natchez, allies, it seemed, of the Quinipissas. So menac- 
ing proved the reception of these formerly cordial people 
that the travelers pushed on up-river in prudent haste. 
They were reduced to eating their coverlets of buffalo-hides 
and, the floods being high, often slept in the canoes. But 
the mulberries were beginning to be good by that time. 
And at the beginning of May they came to the Tensas who 



fed them, heaped their canoes with provisions, and at part- 
ing flung tobacco into the water that the river might be 
peaceful before them. Soon the successive Arkansas vil- 
lages were insisting on their staying to accept dog feasts, 
saying they must be true warriors to have traveled so far 
without loss of a man. 

La Salle, impatient as always, pushed on ahead with two 
canoes of Indians. At Fort Prudhomme he was checked 
by illness. The surgeon was back at the Arkansas with 
Tonty, and one of La Salle's companions turned about with 
a letter which he posted on a sandspit. In the course of 
days Tonty got the letter and sent the doctor forward. La 
Salle was very ill indeed. For forty days he burned with 
fever there in the little log fort beside his river; and it fell 
to Tonty to go on upstream to carry the news of the dis- 
covery, leaving Father Membre to act as nurse. 

It was late September by the time La Salle and Father 
Membre joined Tonty at Michillimackinac. There they 
made their plans ; and thence Tonty returned to the Illinois 
country to build the long-planned fort upon "the Rock," 
the tangible center of La Salle's alliance of the West. 
Though still very weak, La Salle himself expected to go on 
to Quebec in time to take ship for France. But before he 
could start, word came that the Iroquois planned another 
march against the Illinois. Whereupon he decided to re- 
turn to the Illinois country although this would mean a 
year's postponement of his plan to bring colonists by sea to 
the mouth of the Mississippi. 

He wrote his letters to France, recounting to his friends 
all the wonders of his river: the abundance of everything, 
except iron, for building entire fleets of ships upon it; the 
wealth of furs, pearls, odoriferous gums, sugar, tobacco. 

iviesico wnere tiie Spaniards Have lound so many mines." 
The savages along the Mississippi, by reason of their tem- 
ples and autocratic government, had appeared to him very 
tractable. He suggested that they might be armed, and by 
this means New Spain might be "notably Inconvenienced or 
entirely mined.' 9 Besides his letters to France, he wrote 
also a petition to the governor of Canada It was rumored, 
alas, that Count Frontenac was being superseded begging 
that Fort Frontenac be safeguarded until La Salle could 
return from the West. He entrusted these papers, and the 
sworn statement of his discovery, to Father Membre and 
saw him go off alone toward Quebec and France, while he 
himself faced about to rejoin Tonty. 

A great deal can happen in a yean Frontenac had In- 
deed been recalled; he was to return to France on the same 
vessel with Father Membre; and It was his successor who 
received La Salle's petition a sheet of paper that La 
Salle might as well have held in some convenient candle 
flame. The vessels being under sail, the new governor 
hastily scribbled a line to the court, declaring La Salle 
had abandoned Fort Frontenac and gone West to stir up 
trouble between the Miamis and the Iroquois. Father 
Membre, he said, had not chosen to show him the des- 
patches relating to the discovery, but the governor would 
like to say that La Salle was suspected hereabout of in- 
sidious private designs and that Ms alleged discovery was 
useless, anyway. 

In Paris there was now being published a book entitled 
"A Description of Louisiana" by one Father Louis Hen- 
nepin. Dedicated to the king, it dealt with the career o 
the Sieur de La Salle in detail only up to the time of his 
parting from Father Louis at Fort Crevecoeur in the early 


spring of 1680, related Father Louis' subsequent lurid 
adventures on the upper Mississippi; and claimed for its 
author no knowledge of that part of the land of Louisiana 
lying below the mouth of the Illinois River. In short it 
falsified no major events, as later works from the same pen 
were destined to do. And yet its obvious romancing cast 
some shade of discredit on the Sieur de La Salle's wilder- 
ness wanderings to the great Indignation of the Abbes 
Bernou and Renaudot. Another eminent ecclesiastic at 
Paris, w r hen Father Membre called upon him eager to tell 
the story of La Salle's journey down the Mississippi to the 
sea, naturally thought of the newly printed relation of 
Father Louis and was inclined to disbelieve the pair of 
them. Frontenac the old Onontio, as the Abbe Bemou 
delighted to call him arrived at court again, but was in 
such disfavor that he got no audience with the king. The 
sage Colbert, who had authorized La Salle's exploration, 
had died in September. The king, reading the despatches 
from the new governor of Canada La Barre was his name 
wrote in reply: 

"I believe, like you, that the discovery of the Sieur 
de La Salle is entirely useless; and it is necessary in 
future to prevent such enterprises, which serve only to 
debauch the settlers with the hope of gain and to dimin- 
ish the beaver trade." 

La Salle spent that winter, which he had confidently ex- 
pected would find him at Versailles announcing his tri- 
umph, at "the Rock 9 * on the Illinois River with Tonty drag- 
ging logs up to the lofty flat summit, laying in smoked 
meat, making distant journeys of diplomacy throughout 
the plains, and when spring came around was planting 
corn on an Island in the river before the new fort. Near 

i- 7. .- 


"the Rock" on both sides of the river in every direction 
were springing up new Indian lodges, village beyond vil- 
lage, tribe after tribe, in overwhelming proof of the trust 
which La Salle's savage allies put in him and the huddle of 
logs and cannon with which he was crowning his "Rock." 
The news that Frontenac had certainly been replaced duly 
arrived. And when trusted messengers sent to Montreal to 
bring supplies, failed to return, La Salle grew uneasy. 
"Were they being held on the pretext that they were coureurs 
de bois? On April 2, he wrote a letter to the new gov- 
ernor, "although I have not the honor of being known to 
you and although I have reason to fear that envious persons 
may have drawn for you an unfavorable portrait of me. 9 * 

He reported his discovery, the new fort he had now com- 
pleted St. Louis he named it the gathering of Western 
tribes in its shelter, and then he begged that his men should 
not be prevented from bringing him the supplies absolutely 
necessary to this promising settlement. Two months later 
his men still had not come back. Again he wrote the new 
governor. His need of supplies, he said, was extreme. 
He had not even paper. "I am forced to avail myself of 
this wretched scrap to claim the support and protection of 
your authority. . . . The king cannot order me to make 
a discovery and forts without allowing me to have brought 
out here the men and supplies necessary.'* 

La Barre, an old man, opinionated and vindictive "a 
little ill" in the Abbe Bernou's opinion had already 
turned over the statedly abandoned Fort Frontenac to two 
Canadian merchants hostile to La Salle. Moyse Hillaret, 
one-time ship-carpenter and deserter, had been permitted to 
attach the bark on Lake Ontario on account of wages owed 
to him by La Salle. Now La Barre sent a party of mili- 
tary gentlemen out to seize the fine new fort on the Illinois 


River on the ground that La Salle's five-year license from 
the king had expired. Then he folded a copy of La 
Sale's two letters with one of his own to the court to show, 
he said, that the Sieur de La Salle's head was turned; that 
his discovery was false; and that, "instead of coming back 
to find out what the king wanted him to do, he wanders off 
. . . more than five hundred leagues away from here, in 
the depth of the country, to attempt to found an imaginary 
kingdom, by debauching all the bankrupts and loafers in 
the land/' 

It was August when La Salle set off from "the Rock" on 
his long-deferred journey to France. On his way up the 
Illinois he learned with gratification that the crows and 
the starlings had spared the new cornfields of his allies the 
Pepikakias. At the Chicago portage he met La Barrels 
soldiers on their way to take over his new fort. If he felt 
dismay he let none appear in the letter he forthwith wrote 
back to the men he had left at Fort St. Louis: 

MESSIEURS: Qlicag0 ' Se P tember * 1683 - 

I should have written you all separately if I had had 
the paper to do it, in order to thank you for the firmness 
which you are showing in this juncture. You know me 
well enough to be sure I shall be grateful. I promise 
you that when I shall, as I hope, have dissipated this 
little tempest, you shall receive effective tokens of it. 
... I have it on good authority that all this will pass 
off in smoke: even if everything here should succeed for 
my enemies, which I do not expect* I shall come back 
by sea in the spring and, from autumn on, you shall have 
merchandise and your necessities and perhaps the where- 
withal to drink my health. . . . 

Live, I beg you, in concord together and have for 


Monsieur de Toniy the gratitude merited by Ms gener- 
osity in looking after your affairs and mine. . . . What- 
ever your provocation, speak always with great respect 
of Monsieur the governor and obey Ms orders punctu- 
ally, even if he should command you to come back; 
drop everything to report there. . . . You will profit 
by obeying and lose by murmuring. I ask your respect 
for Monsieur le Chevalier de Baugy [the usurping com- 
mander] and for myself the continuation of your 
friendship, even as I shall never forget your good ser- 
vices nor the affection with which 
I am, Messieurs, 

Your very humble and very affectionate 


He gave the letter to the Chevalier de Baugy to deliver 
and continued along his way: Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, 
Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence, the two-months-wide 

The year 1683 came to an end. La Salle was in Paris 
at last. He still had friends it seemed. They did not 
believe his discovery useless far from it. The Abbe 
Bemou, though now in Rome, kept the mails hot with ex- 
cited counsel. The Abbe Renaudot was on the ground, 
as much of a power in colonial affairs as ever. These 
friends receiving La Salle's letter sent by Father Membre 
the year before had been elated to know that he had found 
the mouth of his river. They had been at work ever since 
to keep La Salle's cause alive in influential circles men- 
tioning that he must be made governor of that great river 
domain which he had opened for development, reminding 
Father Coronelli to lay down the Mississippi on the big 
globes he was making for the king. So fondly had La 


Salle's friends tended one seed which he had dropped In 
that letter of a year ago that It had rooted well In French 
soil and grown now to beanstalk proportions. He arrived 
In Paris to find a project for the conquest of the Spanish 
mining provinces north of Mexico and west of his river 
a full-blown flower. 

Penalosa, the old Spanish renegade, was still hanging 
about the French court, still seeking a commission for this 
very conquest, still claiming that, while governor of New 
Mexico before the Inquisition had ruined him, he had ex- 
plored Quivira; in proof of which he presented a magnifi- 
cently faked relation, statedly written by a Spanish friar, 
but more probably concocted and forged by the entirely 
unscrupulous count since coming to Paris. The Abbe 
Bernou, always insatiably curious about foreign lands, had 
devoured the count's Quivira odyssey whole and believed 
himself Penalosa's chief inspiration "it Is I who gave 
him the idea of the grand design," and again, "I am the 
first author of New Biscay/' 

The bustling abbe had interested in the project his good 
friend De Cussy, newly governor of San Domingo, home 
of the bold buccaneers, and perhaps he had also written 
some of Penalosa's memorials to the court. He liked 
writing memorials. At any rate memorials had been writ- 
ten and presented, first to Colbert and, since his recent 
death, to his son, the Marquis de Seignelay, now minister of 
the marine, a flashing, magnificent young man with a taste 
for the dazzling. At this moment Seignelay was thirsting 
to have the king "thunder down proud Genoa" for daring 
to be friends with Spain, and a spectacular proposal for 
seizing Spanish mines In North America might be ex- 
pected to appeal to him. A gift copy of the Relation of 
Penalosa's supposed travels reposed now In Seignelay's 


library, and Penalosa 9 s memorials, La Sale's friends be- 
lieved, were at last being favorably considered. 

Promptly on La Salle's arrival the Abbe Renaudot and 
two of Ms Influential friends constituted themselves Ms 
Impresarios, got him an audience with Seignelay and ar- 
ranged to have Mm meet Count Penalosa at dinner, "I 
believe that Monsieur de La Salle will do very well to 
negotiate with the said count," the Abbe Bemou wrote 
from Rome, "as much to content Monsieur de Seignelay as 
to instruct himself In all particulars, so that if the said 
Iberian should die he could execute our designs. I should 
therefore advise him to flatter him, praise him absent and 
present and by every means enter Into his confidence." 
The Abbe Bernou felt sure that if La Salle managed his 
affairs properly he was in line to rival "the glory of 
Ferdinand Cortez." And In his humorous hyperbolical 
style the good abbe fondly pictured La Salle one day a 
prince on the throne of Montezuma. But only If he could 
get backing of course. The Abbe Bernou knew very well 
that La Salle had not "a long enough purse to carry the 
enterprise through alone." 

Penalosa, quick to seize on the idea that Ms and La 
Salle's projects "might support each other," declared he 
was ready to renounce Ms own or the Abbe Bemou's or 
La Salle's idea of planting a colony as a base of opera- 
tions at the mouth of the Rio Bravo. Let La Salle go 
ahead and plant his coveted settlement at the mouth of 
the Mississippi the River Colbert, Rio Escondldo, Rio 
Bravo, or wherever. Let the count with some of De Cussy's 
buccaneers seize Panuco, the Spaniards' northernmost 
coast settlement. And then let them concertedly attack 
New Biscay, the count and Ms buccaneers marching up 
from the south, La Salle coming from the Mississippi by 


way of the Red River with a great Indian army. It was 
thus, cried Count Penalosa by way of echoing his good 
friend the Abbe Bemou, "that Cortez, a simple Spanish 
captain, made the conquest of the empire of Mexico." 
And forthwith he wrote new memorials to Seignelay prais- 
ing the newly arrived Sieur de La Salle and declaring his 
willingness to serve him in any way that he could. 

La Salle could not know Penalosa's unsavory past 
though the records of Mexico were smeared with his greed 
and arrogance and cruelty. But he disliked the man on 
sight. He scorned the old count's personal ostentation 
Penalosa's vanity at sixty apparently having dimin- 
ished not at all since the date of the inquisition when 
he had walked to his sentence through the streets bear- 
ing a green candle and wearing a fine shirt, a black 
velvet suit, and very large hand ruffles of Flemish point 
lace, with his head bare of hat or wig and his long hair 
beautifully dressed. "Monsieur le Comte de Penalosa 
is always the same. One must excuse him/' urged the 
Abbe Bernou. "He is magnificent and liberal and nour- 
ished in opulence." But to the ear of the weather-beaten 
explorer the elegant elderly adventurer^ talk of his 
travels had a false ring. La Salle told the Abbe Renaudot 
that he detected gross geographical errors in Penalosa's 
tales of Quivira. Moreover, La Salle wished to divide 
honors with no one. "I vow I do not understand this 
reason," protested the Abbe Bemou, for surely La Salle 
did "not pretend to the honor of the discovery of the Gulf 
of Mexico, and I do not see how any one could dispute 
with him that of the River Mississippi." 

But La Salle wanted nothing to do with Penalosa. Per- 
haps the Spaniard's presence even in those preliminary 
negotiations cast a shadow of incredibility on the whole 


proceeding. And that sinister shadow falling athwart the 
perfectly real mines of Ste. Barbe may have endowed them 
for La Salle with some fabulous retreating quality as 
though they had been one with the Seven Cities of Cibola, 
that glinting vagrant eldorado which had lured one after 
another of the count's countrymen to a wilderness death. 

The conquest of New Biscay omitting Its Immediate 
shady protagonist was universally considered plausible. 
Thirteen years before, Dolller de Casson, believing the 
Ohio and the Mississippi one river, had hinted it might 
empty close to the Spanish mines of silver and gold. Pious 
Father Marquette three years later, having traveled half- 
way down the Mississippi, had prattled of Quivira and 
Theguayo; six years ago Colbert had hinted to La Salle 
that a port on the Gulf of Mexico would furnish a vantage 
from which to harass the Spaniards; and the king, writing 
La Salle's commission, had granted him the privilege to 
explore the lands through which a way might be found to 
Mexico. And now nobody had the smallest doubt of the 
nearness of La Salle's river to New Biscay. Certainly not 
La Salle, who with his own eyes had seen in Indian villages 
along its lower course a shirt of mail, two muskets and two 
Spanish rapiers and with his own ears had heard of Indian 
war with "bearded men like ourselves toward the south- 
west" and of western Indians who had horses for war and 
hunt horses which La Salle felt sure were of Spanish 
origin, because these equestrian savages, although quite 
naked, wore, when they traveled horseback, hats of tanned 

The geographers, far from attacking the hypothesis, 
were embodying it in their newest handiwork. Father 
Coronelli's two fine globes for the king were fifteen feet 
in diameter, but so delicately poised that they would swing 


about at a touch, allowing the Index fingers of delighted in- 
door explorers to leap from star to star across the bowl 
of heaven or, on the earthly sphere, to overrun whole 
continents white as ivory cupping seas of ineffable blue. 
On the beautiful globe of the earth, by the old errors of 
longitude, the coveted New Biscay would show in a hand's 
reach of La Salle's new-found river. Franquelin, a gifted 
young geographer, two years earlier had been at Que- 
bec picturing the Mississippi emptying through the Bay 
of Espiritu Santo a hypothesis cheerfully repeated by 
means of a dotted line on the map in Father Hennepin's 
new book. But Franquelin was now in France whither he 
had come apparently with La Salle and drawing a mag- 
nificent map entitled "Louisiana; or the Voyages of the 
Sieur de La Salle" on which the Mississippi, leaving the 
Bay of St. Esprit well to the east, emptied directly into the 
Gulf through passes mapped with commendable accuracy, 
although considerably west of their true meridian. 

Certainly none of La Salle's friends questioned the 
plausibility of a march on the Spanish mining-provinces 
from his river or his fitness to head such an expedition. 
Had he any doubts? He was an explorer, not a conquista- 
dor. All his influence with the Indians till now had been 
expended toward averting battle. At this moment he was 
talking of the Jesuits' Indian Utopia in Paraguay as his 
model of New World government. But whatever doubts 
or divisions may, under the Spaniard's shadow, have 
started up in his mind, he must have smothered promptly. 
The thing had gone too far to question now. The con- 
quest of New Biscay, like the route to China long ago, was 
already a fixed idea in the minds of the men he had to 
deal with. His only problem was how to make it serve his 


purpose of returning In the phrase of the two friendly 
abbes "with a leap and a bound' 9 to his river. 

Now, for the first time it seems., La Salle was granted 
personal audience by the king, Louis XIV was Hearing 
the half century mark In years, a little peevish from a 
humiliating ulcer four years old, more and more Inclined 
to turn for advice to "Your Solidity" as he called Madame 
de Maintenon, now on the point of becoming Ms wife. The 
magnificent years were ending. Overblown with triumphs 
and self-indulgence, impatient already with La Salle's 
tedious toilings by foot and canoe up and down the Ameri- 
can wilderness, he was not likely to be swept off his feet by 
a list of buffalo hides and sweet gum to be floated down a 
navigable river in barks built of native timbers. Fifteen, 
twenty years ago he had willingly poured men and money 
Into colonies, and what had he got out of It? But talk 
to him of a way to annoy Spain and he would at least listen. 
Before this spring should end Ms fleet would thunder 
down the marble pride of Genoa and send the Spanish gal- 
leys scuttling from her harbor. The depredations which 
French buccaneers of San Domingo had lately inflicted 
on the Spanish colonies In America had secretly gratified 
him. For six years at least this New Biscay scheme had 
been dangled before his eyes. The hour was propitious, 
for, In the October past, hostilities with Spain had been 
re-opened. This sun-burned, hard-muscled Norman ex- 
plorer would make a far likelier leader than that beraffled 
old Spaniard. * * . 

La Salle standing before the throne of the Grand Mon- 
arch certainly saw In him a man like any other, with a 
man's weaknesses and a man's desires. His own singleness 
of purpose had given him always a great facility for find- 
ing out what otter men wanted and it was probably no 


harder for him now to get his own way with Louis XIV 
than it had been with Talon and Courcelles and Frontenac 
and Colbert. And under the dazzling circumstances he can 
hardly have bothered to count the cost. 

There is no record of La Sailers audience or audiences. 
The negotiations were probably complicated and prolonged. 
The Abbe Bemou at Rome languished and withered on 
his feet from the coming of one post to the next, waiting in 
vain for La Salle's promised map and relation, frantic to 
hear how he was being received at court, beguiling the 
tense weeks of suspense with page upon page to Renaudot 
of minutely written counsel, reproach and urbane raillery. 
I consider the happy success of this affair a greater opera 
than all those of Monsieur de Lully. You promised to 
send me news of the pearls of my diocese, which we call 
green peas, but you forgot. The maps would oblige Mon- 
sieur le Cardinal and Madame Geographic. Monsieur de 
La Salle writes me not at all. It is a great pity that, being 
far away, one should neglect people. He has so much 
business and so many people to talk to that If you do not 
take care to shut him up one or two afternoons under lock 
and key in your study, I shall have neither map nor rela- 
tion of the conclusion of his discoveries. Send the map 
at the latest for my Easter eggs. And some ounces of 
tobacco herbe a la reine could very well be packed in- 
side the next valise of merchandise sent here. You joke 
the old abbe to say his pen is missed. However, perhaps 
the enclosed two or three little memoirs will not come 
amiss. . . Nor do they, evidently, for far away In Paris 
one, "on the objection of the supposed depopulation of 
France" by the proposed colony, is forthwith reflected 
in Penalosa's newest petition and in one of La Salle's 


Beyond that obvious from the Bernou's cur- 

rent letters and a pervasive similarity to all of Penalosa's 
Bernou-inspired documents,, is nothing in La Salle's 

memorials to indicate to what degree they represent the 
wishes of, severally, the king and his minister. La Salle's 
friends and La Salle himself, nothing to show when or by 
what process they took the form in which they were finally 

They are three in all. One, to be considered entirely 
apart, relates the seizure of his forts by Governor La Barre 
and petitions their restitution, asking that La Forest, now 
in Paris., be reinstated commandant at Fort Frontenac and 
Henri de Tonty at Fort St. Louis on the Illinois an act of 
justice which royal despatches to Canada promptly ordered 
In no uncertain terms. A second paper reports La Salle's 
great discovery at the expense of five years 9 hardship and 
50,000 ecus, offers to found a colony near the mouth of 
the Mississippi, the River Colbert, and teHs how such a 
colony would bring glory to God and Louis XIV, hinting 
at near-by defenseless provinces rich In mines. The third 
outlines military operations from his colony as a base, 
against the mining country of New Biscay. 

In this third paper La Salle specifically proposes to 
build a fort sixty leagues up the River Colbert, the mouth 
of which could easily be defended by fire ships; and, if 
the present anomalous relation with Spain turn Into open 
war, to move by way of the Red River on New Biscay at 
the head of an army of two hundred men from France, 
fifty buccaneers from San Domingo, fifty Canadians and 
four thousand Indian warriors from the fort on the Illinois 
River. Once captured, the silver mines of New Biscay 
which were said to yield Spain six millions a year, would 
yield France far more thanks to easy transportation by 


ills great navigable river. Even If peace require the post- 
ponement of the project and he mentions this as though 
hopefully, three separate times France will still have 
made a profitable establishment and forestalled other na- 
tions at the mouth of the great river. And he asks for a 
vessel of thirty guns; the power to levy the men needed; 
supplies for six months; some cannon to mount at a fort; 
and wages, arms, and supplies to maintain the establish- 
ment during the first year. 

From beginning to end of La Salle's memorials there 
Is no mention of any aged Spanish adventurer. And the 
Abbe Bernou was now resigned to that: "I approve of 
your not having joined the affair of our friend to that of 
Monsieur de Sainte-Foi," he told the Abbe Renaudot in 
his cryptic style. Although he did hint that, not to neglect 
the mysterious "Sainte-Foi," plans should be started for 
sending him and "the Dominican" De Cussy to join 
"our friend" with reinforcements next year. 



THE project was wrapped In such secrecy that many In 
Paris believed La Salle had been coldly received at Ver- 
sailles. Lardon, the Gazette of Holland, published the 
news that the Sieur de La Salle lately arrived at Paris 
claimed to have found * 4 a new world In the New World, 
abounding in riches, especially silver mines/' but thought 
it likely that this "beautiful expedition is at bottom only a 
fable like that of the Isle of Pines." However, the Mercure 
Galant of Paris was talking of him and his river with much 
respect. And the eminent churchman who last year had 
been Inclined to disbelieve Father Membre's tale now 
boasted to Ms friends of a visit from the Sieur de La Salle. 
"He gave me a very beautiful map . . Monsieur le 
Marquis de Selgnelay has heard him favorably. Hie king 
has received him very well indeed*" 

To La Salle was formally given the government of the 
lands he had discovered and claimed for the crown. The 
king's ship of war* the Joly, and soon other vessels besides 
were ordered to be got ready for him at Rochefort. A 
young brother of Henri de Tonty on the recommendation 
of Villermont, one of La Salle's Influential friends, was 
made captain of the troops to be raised. And with the 
same sponsoring, says the Abbe Bernou, the Sieur de Beau- 
jeu, a high-born gentleman of La Salle's own province of 
Normandy and a captain in the royal navy, was named to 
command the Joly a choice which delighted the Abbe 



Bernou, who pronounced Beaujeu "a daring man, a great 
navigator, weathered by tough fighting qui a mange de la 
vache enrages at Algiers, and above all very able at sur- 
veying and mapping ports and coasts." 

In Beaujeu's orders the king stated that he had confided 
the secret o the enterprise to the Sieur de La Salle, whose 
instructions he wished Beaujeu to follow punctually. In 
whatever related to maneuver of the ship, Beaujeu was 
to command, but in all that related to the route he must 
execute La Salle's orders, and at their final port he was 
to give La Salle whatever help he should ask. It was given 
out generally that the objective of the expedition was 
Canada. The Abbe Renaudot knew better, of course. He 
wrapped his news in dark Hebrew characters for the eyes 
of a trusted fellow cleric: "A rumor runs through all 
Israel which one repeats in a whisper for fear of the 
Jesuits. ... A secret decree has been rendered in the 
council of the king (you ought to keep this in the bottom 
of your heart for the captain of the ship does not know it 
himself) : It is that La Salle, crossing the high seas will 
steer not for Canada but for the waters of the Mississippi." 

It does not appear whether La Salle accepted the Abbe 
Bernou's advice to rest a few days at Montrouge while 
editing the abbe's relation of his travels, correcting the 
misshaped Great Lakes on the abbe's map, and making 
marginal retorts to "Dom Hempin" on the pages of his 
"bad book." But that he managed a flying visit to his 
family at Rouen is safely conjectured from the number 
of persons there who now made ready to join him. And 
he certainly took time at Paris to meet his kinsman Plet at 
the notary's and draw up new papers in honor of that 
gentleman's willingness to wait another year for the money 
La Salle had so long owed him. His finances were in de- 


plorable state. "1 hope that you . . . will write me how 
he has settled his business with his associates and creditors" 
this from the Abbe Bemou, who had Just had a near 
quarrel at long range with La Sale on the subject of that 
three thousand-weight of powder on which La Salle six 
years back had promised him a return of 2 ? 000 ecus. 
And the younger Toniy newly appointed to head La Salle's 
troops was most inconveniently dunning La Salle for back 
pay for his brother Henri a matter of 800 livres, which 
Henri in America wanted paid over to their family in 

At all events La Salle was delayed, and Captain Beaujeu 
reached La Rochelle and Rochef ort ahead of him. Officers 
were already scattered through the country enlisting the 
four hundred men wanted for the expedition. Curiosity 
ran high. The port officials, with all of whom Beaujeu 
was hand in glove, accosted him with questions. He was 
unable to clear up the mystery. It humiliated him. Who 
ever heard of a ship's route being kept secret from her 
captain? When La Salle arrived some days later, Beaujeu 
went with him to the office of the intendant, to the maga- 
zine to check over lists of equipment, and from there to 
look at the Joly, which La Salle thought small. That eve- 
ning they met at the house of the intendant to write to the 
court together. Among the intendanfs papers appeared a 
memorial of La Salle's own which he had intended for the 
eyes of the minister and not of Beaujeu and the officials of 
the port of Rochefort. He uttered an exclamation of dis- 
may. Beaujeu resented his secretiveness. High words 
flew between them. La Salle used expressions, Beaujeu 
said, which the king himself would not address to a cap- 
tain in his navy. 

Beaujeu felt free to talk La Salle over with a ship chan- 


dler next day; with Minet, the engineer of the expedition, 
and, by letter, with Villermont, his and, till now, La Salle's 
friend at Paris. La Salle's want of confidence, Beaujeu 
said, would enrage anybody but a Norman. Worse, the 
man was neither seaman nor soldier. "It even seems to 
me he is not so confident of his affair as he was in Paris. 
. . I am the most deceived man in the world if he accom- 
plishes what he has promised." Beaujeu swore he could 
not engage a pilot without knowing what waters the pilot 
ought to be familiar with. He should know the St. Law- 
rence, La Salle answered guardedly. And would that 
suffice? Well, no, he ought also to know the coast of 
San Domingo and the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mex- 
ico! On six months 9 rations! Beaujeu was almost beside 
himself. He poured out his grief in a letter to the court. 
H could not see why he who had served the king thirty 
years on land and sea and been a ship captain for thirteen 
should have to take orders from a civilian of no rank at 
all, who had never commanded_janybpdy but sclioolboys. 
He was affronted because Henri de Tonty was to be La 
Salle's alternate in command when the expedition should 
have reached America. "Although I do not know the coun- 
try over there ... I should be a very unskillful man if I 
did not know it as well as they at the end of a month." 

The court replying, reproved Beaujeu sharply. The 
command of the expedition was La Salle's "since it is he 
who made the discovery." What should take place on land 
could be no concern of Beaujeu* s "because you ought never 
to leave your vessel." Wherefore Beaujeu was not to make 
difficulties "there is nothing which could so surely make 
the expedition fail." Beaujeu grew more indignant. Was 
it not enough to put him in a position where he must run 
to consult that landlubber every time he wanted to turn a 


capstan or haul on a sheet? He Beaujeu make diffi- 
culties! Why, be was accomplishing the impossible al- 
ready, squeezing nine months* supplies into the narrow 
hold of the Joly where no one had ever managed before 
to pack more than six; and that with La Salle objecting 
all the time to having the flour converted into biscuit and 
the wine changed for brandy, and wanting to pile great 
cases and coffers all over the deck so they could not fire 
the guns or work the capstans. And even if La Salle was 
to command the forces after they should reach America, 
surely aboard ship the soldiers as well as the sailors ought 
to be subject to Captain Beaujeu. And what earthly right 
had La Salle to demand if his personal party were to mess 
on bacon while others would be eating mutton and fowl? 
Why, Beaujeu had not even been told by the court how 
many passengers La Salle was privileged to seat at the 
captain's table and who was to pay their board. It was La 
Salle, not Beaujeu who was making difficulties. Ask any 
of Beaujeu's brother officers, ask the port authorities, ask 
the man in the street at Rochefort 

Beaujeu in his own eyes was a bluff hearty seaman. "I 
am a stout old Norman who knows only how to travel the 
straight highroad for the good of the service." Over and 
over he declared he wished La Salle no 31. He would do 
anything in the world to serve him, even to sailing his ship 
on dry land. He would take him to the kingdom of the 
moon if that was orders. When La Salle was so un- 
reasonable as to say he wanted nobody but himself to take 
the latitude on board, Beaujeu agreed to lock up the instra- 
me nts ij u t a seaman needs only two sticks to take his 
bearings and the captain could not undertake to cover up 
the sun. When La Salle in frantic need was scratching 
about Rochefort and La Rochelle for a bit of cash, Beaujeu 


even pressed upon him the loan of a hundred pistoles with 
no better security, as he jovially put it, than a mortgage on 
the government of Louisiana, a realm quite as mythical to 
this man of chart and compass as the kingdom of the moon. 
The captain, himself born and reared a gentleman, felt his 
many civilities were wasted on La Salle, a bourgeois by 
birth, whose manners had been formed by a life among 
Schoolboy brats and savages. But he felt, too, that in the 
running narrative which day by day he spread abroad to 
the court, to Villermont at Paris, and to all and sundry at 
Rochefort, his mannerly overtures reflected great credit 
upon himself. 

La Salle, transported from Paris where the king and 
the dazzling Seignelay had honored him, and his friends 
had encouraged him with extravagant talk of the throne 
of Montezuma La Salle, set down in Rochefort among a 
lot of little navy men who were laughing behind their 
hands at Beaujeu's stories, went at his unaccustomed task 
feeling lonely and uneasy. The commissary at the maga- 
zine made him so much trouble that he wondered if the 
man could be in the pay of his enemies. Young Tonty, 
arriving, refused to meet and confute the men who had 
reported certain spoken disloyalties of his to La Salle. 
There was nothing to do but leave him behind after pay- 
ing him those 800 livres owed to his brother Henri. La 
Salle learned that Madame Beaujeu was a devotee of the 
Jesuits. From the first he had felt hostility under the 
captain's politest advances. In due course the Abbe Renau- 
dot wrote from Paris that Villermont was handing about 
letters from Beaujeu filled with gossip about La Salle and 
his expedition. Considering the king's injunctions to 
secrecy and his own painful reserve, it was enough to anger 
La Salle. He made a scene. 


Beaujeu blustered. He was annoyed that his friend 
had been showing his letters around but only because lie 
wrote them hastily and sent them off without re-reading 
them, not at all because of anything that was in them. He 
would write what he liked. He had no secrets. And as to 
La Salle's he could hardly be accused of violating a con- 
fidence he had never received. Surely he was as free as 
anybody to draw conclusions from what he read in the 
Holland Gazette. He was not acquainted with this Abbe 
Renaudot but he would thank him to mind his own busi- 
ness. Let him exalt La Salle as much as he liked and rank 
him along with Coitez 7 Pizarro and Almagro. "It makes 
no difference to me. But he'd better not speak of me as an 
obstacle to his hero/' 

The two abbes, in Paris and in Rome, were alarmed, 
"I am not satisfied with what you write me about his 
mariner/' said the Abbe Bemou, "because I know our 
friend to be so much occupied with his great designs that 
he is usually melancholy, a little brusque, and not very 
frank-r-owing perhaps to the continual mistrust to which 
the maneuvers of Monsieur R.N* [Robe Noire meaning 
Jesuits] have accustomed him. That makes him, too, a 
little suspicious which is not a good preparation for get- 
ting on with determined characters and less yet with a man 
as difficult as this one. . . .** 

While the vessels were being loaded and rigged in the 
river before Rochef ort word came from La Barre, governor 
of Canada, that the Irocpiois had attacked La Salle's fort 
on the Illinois. La Salle sharply declared it a false rumor 
manufactured by La Barre to distress him. But he knew 
that it could be true. If it was* what of his friend Tonty 
back in the Illinois country, what of the allied tribes gath- 
ered trustfully about "the Rock"? Not all of La Salle's 


spoken denials could blot out a memory of picketed skulls 
and a swirl of buzzards against a winter sky. "Was he also 
beginning to mistrust the divided character of his new 
commission? Heretofore he had been armored in his 
single fixed idea, impervious alike to misfortune and 
malice. Beaujeu, eyeing closely this "impenetrable man" 
believed he was losing confidence day by day. "He has 
undertaken a thing of which he Is not sure. ... It is al- 
ready apparent to everybody both by his discourse and his 
actions." La Salle declared to Beaujeu that he meant to 
succeed or perish in his undertaking which Beaujeu 
quoted to prove what an irrational fellow he really was. 
"There are few here who do not believe him touched. I 
have talked about him with some people who have known 
him for twenty years. All of them say he always has been 
visionary. . * ." 

The mischievous letters took their way to Paris to "Mon- 
sieur de Villermont, Rue d'Enfer, near the back door of 
the Luxembourg." Villermont, a man whose tongue, the 
Abbe Bemou declared, went faster than his legs, hurried to 
call on La Sailers friends at the ministry on purpose to 
destroy him in their regard and then by letter to the Abbe 
Bernou in Rome reported what he had done, accusing La 
Salle "of being a great Impostor, the most cowardly of all 
men, of not knowing where the mouth of the Great River 
is, and many other things . . ." the abbe noted ruefully, 
"holding forth for five long pages." 

Beaujeu, expert seaman that he was, finished his prepara- 
tions first. For a whole week he had nothing to do but 
regale himself with his friends, the little hierarchy of the 
port. They invited La Salle but he declined. So they 
were free to entertain themselves at the expense of "the 
hero of Louisiana," as they merrily called him, and his 


"mysterious river"- which, they believed, only in 

ins imagination. One gentleman of Beaujeu's coterie 
knew the Gulf of Mexico well and lie was sure no river 
of any consequence emptied into it. La Sale tad 
salt water, but that proved nothing. His river probably 
emptied into some inland salt water lake. They all pitied 
poor Beaujeu his ridiculous commission* And that droll 
fellow said he was going out to look for something as hard 
to find as the philosopher's stone. He laughed a great deal 
at La Salle's insistence on the prerogatives of command. 
He craves smoke, does he? Fm going to give it to him till 
he is satisfied and even fed up, swore the captain. But the 
cream of the whole jest was the paper which La Salle drew 
up for Beaujeu to sign before sailing, It had twenty-eight 
articles "like the Peace of Algiers!" cried the amazed 
captain who never before In all his life had been asked to 
navigate or make war by legal writ. Why, the man was 
wanting a sentinel at his cabin door! Upon my word, my 
friends, if our Marshal came aboard I should have noth- 
ing left to offer him. 

Before now the enlistment officers had finished their 
work and the recruits were gathering at Rochefort, eating 
the bread of the enterprise while they waited for the ships 
to sail, among them, unfortunately, some soldiers too 
young to shoulder a musket, artisans without knowledge of 
craft or tool, even beggars from church doorways. But 
there were honest men, too, of course, a little band of 
gentlemen volunteers, a few young women, the Talon 
family from Canada: mother, father, and several children. 
La Salle's personal following tad come together, too: his 
brother the Abbe Jean Cavelier at last sufficiently im- 
pressed by La Salle's travels to become a party to them; 
their two nephews, Crevel de Moranget and Colin Cavelier, 


a little boy; Joutel of Rouen, son of a one-time gardener 
;> La Salle's Uncle Henri; the merchant brothers Duhaut, 
also of Rouen, going out to Louisiana to make their for- 
tune; several priests representing the Sulpitian as well as 
the Franciscan order, among them La Salle's ardent ad- 
mirer Father Membre as ready to embark on the Joly as 
long ago on the little Griffin; the veteran voyageur Gabriel 
Minime or Barbier limping from a wound got in La Salle's 
great journey down the Mississippi and bearing now a 
aew lieutenant's commission; and, shadowy and unnamed 
among the white men, one or two devoted Shawnees whom 
La Salle had brought from America with him. In all there 
^ere nearly four hundred men, by La Salle's statement; 
two hundred and eighty, by Joutel's. 

At last the ships were ready: the Joly with her thirty- 
six guns; the Belle, a sixty-ton frigate armed with six 
^uns, gift of the king to the Sieur de La Salle; the Aimable 9 
a store ship of three hundred tons loaded with most of the 
equipment for the settlement and financed in part, it seems, 
by the brothers Duhaut; and a little ketch to carry the over- 
Sow of provisions. The Joly leading, they dropped down 
the river and sailed around to anchor in the roads before 
La Rochelle. Here, while they waited for a favorable 
mind, they wrote their farewell letters. La Salle wrote: 

"To Madame Cavelier, Widow, Rue Sainte Croix des 

Pelletiers, Rouen. 

La Rochelle, July 18, 1684. 

At last, after having long awaited a favorable wind 
and had many obstacles to overcome, we are leaving with 
four vessels, in which there are nearly four hundred men. 
Everybody is well, among others little Colin and my 


[other] nephew. We have all good hope of a happy 
success. "We do not go by Canada at all but by the Gulf 
of Mexico. We passionately hope that the success of this 
voyage can contribute to your repose and relieve you as 
much as I wish. I shall assuredly spare no effort to that 
end. And I pray you, for your part., to take care of 
yourself for love of us. 

There has come news from Canada which ought not 
to disturb us at all, being only the continuation of the 
artifices of my enemies against whom I hope to succeed 
as happily as I have done up to now and that we shall 
embrace you in a year with all the pleasure which very 
grateful children can have for a mother so good as you 
have always been. Let this hope sustain you, I beg. In 
the many trials which can arrive and the assurance that 
you will always find my heart filled with disposi- 
tions proper to, Madame and very honored mother, your 
very humble and very obedient servant and son 


My brother, my nephews and all the gentlemen salute 
you and take leave of you." 

He did not write a last line to the Abbes Bemou and 
Renaudot, a lapse over which those good friends would 
shake their heads sadly. 44 I console myself/' sighed the 
Abbe Bernou, "by the example of the good man David 
after the death of his son." On July 24 the squadron 
sailed in company 'with a number of vessels bound for 
Canada which Beaujeu was to guide as far as FInisterre. 



AT 8 o'clock on the morning of the fifth day out while the 
Joly was going smartly along under full canvas, her bow- 
sprit snapped in two although the weather was no more 
than moderately rough and there was nothing for her to 
do but put about for port, followed by her three companion 
ships. Hints of underhand play ran among the passengers, 
who watched the Canada-bound sails of the rest of the fleet 
disappear into the west, and La Salle was sharply dis- 
quieted. However, arrived once more in port, the Joly 
was so promptly reconditioned by the officials of Roche- 
fort that every one's doubts were soothed. La Salle wrote 
to Seignelay that he believed he and Beaujeu were going 
to get along very well together after all, and on the first 
of August the little fleet again stood out to sea. 

They met favorable winds, a week later doubled Finis- 
terre without meeting the privateers which rumor had pic- 
tured lying in wait for them there, and in three weeks were 
nearing Madeira. Captain Beaujeu wanted to put into 
port here for water and fresh provisions, but La Salle 
refused. They had water for two months enough to last 
to San Domingo; and the stop would mean the loss of at 
least a week's time and might even give the Spaniards 
wind of his enterprise. Moreover, the Marquis de Seigne- 
lay had not authorized it. In the argument a man named 
Paget a mere passenger lifted his voice in disagreement 
with La Salle. Was Beaujeu talking La Salle over with 



the passengers as tie had talked him over with the hierarchy 
at Rochefort? La Salle was Indignant and the quarrel 
waxed bitter. In the end Paget apologized* Captain 
Beaujeu weathered Madeira and steered for San Domingo. 

But Beaujeu considered himself very ill-used. La Salle's 
freight ships were wretched sailers. And the Joly wait- 
Ing for them, had to creep along with her two lower sails 
furled and only her two topsails spread. The ship was 
terribly crowded at the last minute La Salle had brought 
aboard thirty-six more passengers than Beaujeu had ex- 
pected; and there were those piles of cases and kegs crowd- 
ing the sailors and soldiers out of their rightful quarters 
between decks, forcing them to He about the open deck in 
sun and rain. This man La Salle was learned enough, the 
captain would admit. He knew even somewhat to Beau- 
jeu's surprise the principles of navigation. But theory 
and book-learning are not enough. There is such a thing as 
practice. The man didn't seem to realize there was "a lot 
of difference between taking canoes along inland lakes and 
rivers and leading ships and troops Into far-off seas." And 
La Salle, always distant, always difficult, met the captain's 
most reasonable proposal or so Beaujeu declared with 
an unanswerable: "I have the king's orders to do this and 
forbidding me to do that." 

From Madeira on, a passenger testifies, new disputes 
were continually being brought "on the carpet. . . . Mon- 
sieur de La Salle never passed a week in repose without 
being attacked directly or indirectly he was always on 
the defensive." Of course he suffered from Beaujeu's 
hostility. He knew as well as Beaujeu that he would have 
felt more at home in a canoe on some wilderness river. 
Here he was a man cut off from his past. In the patient 
years of his search he had mastered many Indian tongues 


and all the craft of the forest: he could fashion an elm- 
bark canoe, read savage war-signs carved on trees, and 
keep himself alive in the woods as well as any savage. 
But none of that gave him the slightest help in managing 
one little peppery Norman sea captain. Standing alone at 
the rail, smarting from Beaujeu's latest thrust he must 
often have gazed uneasily ahead across the tossing waste 
of water. He could not even picture his goal he had not 
heen able to get far enough offshore in his bark canoe to 
view the coast in any perspective. He had seen it in flood 
and was returning in a season when its waters would be 
low. He must have grown only the more uneasy when now 
he tried vainly to picture that flat and featureless shore 
where, barred by sandbanks, veiled in marshes, lay the 
mouth of his river. 

The passengers amused themselves watching the flying- 
fish leap out of the summer seas in terror before the flash- 
ing dolphins, and the sailors, counterfeiting the flying-fish 
with bits of rag and hooks, trolled behind the ship for a 
catch to vary the everlasting diet of salted meat. At some 
time during the crossing a baby was born to the Canadian 
Talon's wife aboard the Joly and christened, with the Sieur 
de La Salle standing godfather. At the Tropic of Cancer 
the sailors got ready to administer the time-honored 
boisterous baptism of the sea to all who were for the first 
time crossing that line. The great tubs stood about the 
decks already filled with water for the general ducking 
when La Salle sent word to Captain Beaujeu that he would 
suffer none of his people to be exposed to the ceremony. 
The sailors, cheated of the time-honored merrymaking and 
no less of that money for drinks which, under the name of 
fines, they always exacted of passengers too timid to be 
ducked, were bitterly aggrieved and, said Joutel of Rouen, 


"would willingly have killed us all.' 9 Their grumbling 
certainly reached La Salle's ears but as certainly he was 
deaf to it. In his present state of mind he could bear com- 
plaints better than riotous merriment. 

The heat was intense. People began falling ill. An 
old cannoneer died aboard the Belle, and there were two 
deaths on the Joly. In mid-September as they were Hearing 
San Domingo, a two-day tropical hurricane drove the little 
fleet apart. In a conference aboard the Joly it was de- 
cided, and set down in writing, that she should not stop 
for the other vessels she had now fifty or sixty sick 
aboard, among them La Salle and the two doctors but 
should crowd her canvas and make all speed for Port de 
Paix, where La Salle counted on meeting De Cussy, the 
governor, and claiming his aid. But Captain Beaujeu, 
whether dishonestly, as the partisans of La Salle would be 
quick to charge, or for reasons entirely justifiable by his 
hearty seaman's code, passed by Port de Paix in the night 
and brought the Joly into port at Petit Goave, instead. 

La Salle, being somewhat recovered, went ashore and 
got off letters to De Cussy and other island officials, ex- 
cusing himself for being at Petit Goave instead of at Port 
de Paix as agreed and begging them to come to him here. 
And then he attempted to arrange for food and lodging for 
the sick. He found food scarce and dear; a fowl was worth 
30 or 40 sous and everything else in proportion. He had 
been told to bring no silver, and he could get no one to 
honor a 2,000-livre letter of credit which he had brought. 
And a wretched half -covered hut near the end of the island 
was the best Petit Goave could provide as a hospital. Nor 
was he himself so far recovered as he had supposed. 
Walking along with his townsman Joutel under the tropical 
sun he was suddenly so overcome with weakness that he 


tad to lie down on the ground. "The posture of his af- 
fairs/' Joutel pityingly observed, "want of money and 
the weight of a mighty enterprise, and his not knowing 
whom to trust with the execution of it, made him even more 
sick in mind than he was in body. . . ." 

The next day he woke with a hot fever in the wretched 
loft where he was lodged with his brother the Abbe Jean 
Cavelier. A goldsmith living near, touched by the sick 
man's plight, proffered the Abbe Jean his own house. The 
Abbe Jean accepted thankfully and, as sick as La Salle 
was, had him carried there at once. But the goldsmith's 
house unfortunately was very close to taverns where there 
was a continual uproar night and day. A troop of sailors 
from the Joly danced and sang in the street before the 
house all night long. "The more one begged them to be 
quiet, the more noise they made." The sick man's fever 
rose and he was quite out of his head. "His imagination 
showed him things alike terrible and marvelous": Lost 
souls, perhaps people who had disobeyed the priests and 
forgotten God, ablaze in the hell he had been taught in 
childhood to picture; or an Iroquois prisoner spitted and 
roasted alive in the presence of his howling enemies; or 
some gold-mad Spaniard floundering through endless cane- 
brakes toward an eldorado forever retreating beyond the 
grasp of his torn and bleeding hands. 

After some days the Aimable and the Belle came into 
port without the ketch. It was feared the Spaniards had 
captured her with all her supplies and, worse yet, the 
secret of the expedition. The news was kept from La 
Salle although, delirious as he was, he could hardly 
have understood if they had told him. The Abbe Jean 
asked Captain Beaujeu to take charge of La Salle's port 
business; but when Beaujeu asked for accounts or written 


inventories for his enlightenment, the abbe could furnish 
none and even admitted Beaujeu said that his brother 
kept no books. So the captain begged to be excused. 

The doctors told Beaujeu that La Sailers illness was 
very dangerous "not only for the body but also for the 
mind"; and the rumor spread that he would never regain 
his sanity. Disorder rioted through the ranks of his fol- 
lowers. Those who were not already ill seemed bent on 
making themselves so. "The air was bad, the fruit the 
same, and there were women worse than the air and the 
fruit," lamented JouteL There were deaths. There were 
also desertions following upon the usual tavern gossip: 
the buccaneers of the island assured the travelers that the 
land across the Gulf, to which they were going, instead of 
being good and fertile as La Salle had depicted it was no 
more than an arid desert they showed them how the 
Spaniards had marked it Costa Deserta on their maps. 
The navigation of the Gulf was fraught with danger: in 
winter furious northers prevailed and in summer the south 
wind drove you toward the low and treacherous coast. At 
present, moreover, the waters were infested with Spanish 
privateers. And when Minet, the engineer of the expedi- 
tion, asked the buccaneers if they had ever seen, toward 
the far end of the Gulf, any "great river which had long 
jetties into the sea," they answered that they had seen no 
great rivers at all but only a number of little streams and 
large lakes. 

Beaujeu vented his exasperation in a letter to Seignelay, 
mentioning La Salle's many shortcomings, the wretched 
crossing, the present discomfort, the dangers ahead the 
sandbars, the northers, and six Spanish privateers with ac- 
companying galleys prowling about the Gulf. Not that 
Captain Beaujeu was afraid, merely disapproving of the 


entire expedition and Its leader, who had gone so far as to 
hint through an officer that if Beaujeu would turn over his 
soldiers to him here at San Domingo, Beaujeu might re- 
turn to France for all La Salle cared. "If you will allow 
me to speak my mind, Monsieur de La Salle ought to con- 
tent himself with having discovered his river Instead of 
undertaking to bring three ships and troops across two 
thousand leagues of varying climates and seas entirely un- 
known to him." Certainly Captain Beaujeu would order 
the enterprise In a very different manner if La Salle should 


But La Salle did not die. In a lucid interval he asked 
for the viaticum, and from then on his delirium abated. 
He was able to move to the house of an Island priest where 
he could be quiet and get some sleep. The fever began to 
go down, and from his bed, with help of his trusted com- 
missary, Le Gros, and the dependable Joutel, he worked at 
getting things in order to continue his voyage. He at- 
tempted to check the debauchery and desertions by limit- 
ing shore leave to the more trustworthy. He showed the 
brothers Duhaut, evidently the moneyed men of the expedi- 
tion, that the laces, cloth of India, clothing and such goods, 
which they had brought from France, would be of less 
value In the Gulf country than here, and persuaded them 
to turn some of their goods into money to be lent to him- 
self. True, in the course of this negotiation, one of the 
brothers Duhaut unfortunately let it slip that La Salle's 
ketch had been captured by the Spanish the disaster 
having been now fully confirmed and that sent La Salle' s 
fever up again. But he weathered the relapse, too. Then 
Monsieur de Cussy and the other island officials arrived 
full of willingness to be of service, and soon they arranged 
for him to have Indian com to replace the flour in his 


lost ketch. There was a grand conference aboard the Joly, 
of these officials and the captains and pilots of the expedi- 
tion and one of the filibuster pilots of the Island, to air all 
facts and theories concerning the perils of the Gulf and 
to determine the course of the rest of the voyage. During 
this conference It was said openly by De Cussy and his 
associates that Beaujeu's failure to stop at Port de Paix 
was directly responsible for the loss of the ketch. "Where- 
upon Beaujeu demanded of La Salle a certificate that his 
conduct in this and all other matters had been above re- 
proach; and La Salle, magnanimously or perhaps wearily, 
agreed to give it to him. 

The supplies were embarked, including a cow and 
chickens and some little pigs to stock the new colony, and 
in the last week of November the ships now only three 
in number were ready to sail. At the last moment La 
Salle, influenced by rumors that Captain Beaujeu was say- 
ing the slow-going Aimable would have to keep up as she 
could and a growing suspicion of ill-will in the captain of 
the Aimable , decided to travel in the Aimable. Perhaps, 
too, he felt too ill and worn just now to bear the daily 
society of the salty Captain Beaujeu and was only too glad 
to avail himself of the opportunity to write the courteous 
letter by which he took leave of him: 

"Monsieur: Reflecting on the peril which my enterprise 
would run if the Aimable should be separated from us 
. . and on the need she has of a commander in case she 
should be attacked, I have decided to command her myself 
in order not to be useless as I should be on the ]olj! 9 He 
excused himself for making use of the pen, saying that he 
was not well enough yet to venture a second time through 
the heat of the day in order to go aboard the Joly and say 
good-by in person. He then discussed the navigation 


ahead. "I beg of you, Monsieur, your escort In so far as 
bad weather does not prevent. Since you know It is not 
my fortune but the service of the king which is concerned, 
I do not doubt that you will do, in your customary manner, 
all that seems to you necessary for that service. I pray 
you further if the winds separate us to have the goodness 
to wait for us, to wit: before Cape St. Antoine, at the 
Isle of Pines or at such other place as you care to designate 
and after that at the Bay of St. Esprit and then at twenty- 
eight degrees and twenty minutes where I declare to you is 
the mouth of the river which I hope to enter, quite at the 
end of the Gulf. 

"I pray you also to give us signals. . . . I beg you 
to be good enough to have sent to me my clothes, my linen, 
and that which is in my cabin, as also my brother's chest, 
his wine case, his bed, his boxes of books, and my wine 
case . . ." He mentioned that he was sending "by the 
sailors some chickens for the sick and for the two eccle- 
siastics and the two Recollets, whom I pray you to suffer 
aboard with my little nephew." He hoped Beaujeu would 
do them the honor of letting them eat at his table. "I will 
settle for it however you wish." 

"Finally, Monsieur, to show you with what sincerity 
I address you, I tender you herewith the declaration which 
you said you wanted " and which exonerated Beaujeu 
of all responsibility for the loss of the ketch. "I am, Mon- 
sieur, your very humble and very obedient servant, De La 

The three vessels weighed anchor November 25. On 
December 3 they touched at the Isle of Pines where Mon- 
sieur de La Salle shot an alligator, and Joutel, who was no 
mean naturalist, observed the fruits and growing plants, 
the parrakeets and turtle doves. They anchored again 


at Cape St. Antoine at the western tip of the Island of 
Cuba. And then they entered the Gulf. A day's journey 
advanced upon its mystery and peril, in the first shift of 
wind Captain Beaujeu brought the Joly near the Aimable 
and made known to La Salle his opinion that since the 
winds had turned contrary they ought to put back to Cuba 
"to which Monsieur de La Salle consented/ 5 declares 
Joutel, "to avoid giving him any cause to complain." 
They turned back and anchored again; many went ashore; 
but Joutel, ill of a tertian fever, saw of Cuba only its 
fringe of fanleaf palms fit "for nothing but making 
brooms." Four days later they started again, steering 
north-northwest upon the dreaded deep blue water, care- 
fully eying every cloud, with profound apprehension of 
the norther it might contain, watching the variation of the 
compass needle, taking their bearings on the sun, check- 
ing their findings by their erroneous maps, and always 
wondering if they were holding their own against those 
"mooted Bahama currents which they had been assured 
would constantly and imperceptibly draw them eastward 
from their course. 

La Salle's plan was to steer straight for the Bay of St. 
Esprit, put the larger vessels in security there and himself 
in the Belle from there coast alongshore westward to the 
mouth of his river a sound, judicious plan, stamped with 
all the probabilities of success. The larger ships might 
not be able to get close enough inshore to let him recog- 
nize his river mouth in a flat and marshy coast, but the 
Bay of St. Esprit, so large and so clearly marked upon the 
maps, they could hardly miss; and he had concluded three 
years ago, by precise and accurate reasoning, that the 
mouth of the Mississippi lay southwest of that bay. 

On the twenty-seventh they calculated that they must 


be nearlng land. So the Belle went ahead to sound. About 
half an hour before sunset those aboard the other ships 
saw her put out her colors and lie to to wait for them to 
come up: she had found, her master said, an oozy bottom 
at thirty fathoms. The little fleet crept forward sounding 
cautiously as dark fell. At seven o'clock they were In 
forty fathoms, at nine o'clock, twenty-five, at midnight, 
only seventeen. The next day after a conference of Cap- 
tain Beaujeu's lieutenant and pilots with La Salle aboard 
the Aimable, they moved on with the Belle in the lead, still 
sounding. Again the Belle put out her colors; a sailor 
on the Aimable mounted the maintop and sighted land 
hardly six leagues off to the northeast; Captain Beaujeu 
brought the Joly to anchor; and there was another con- 
ference, wherein It was concluded chiefly, it appears on 
the testimony of a highly esteemed map which Paris 
scholars had given La Salle that while steering west 
they had been carried, by the supposed force of the 
Bahama currents, toward the upper end of the Florida 
peninsula and that the land just sighted must therefore 
be the coast of Appalachee Bay. So believing they con- 
tinued west alongshore. 

On January first during a calm, being close inshore, 
La Salle went off with some of his men In a boat to recon- 
noiter the coast, but the wind freshened and they had to go 
aboard again almost immediately. They had time only 
to observe along the edge of the Gulf a sort of dyke of 
sand, behind it a vast plain as far as they could see, and 
near-by marshes at sea level filled with reeds in which it 
was impossible to walk without bogging down. Joutel 
in a second boat did not even land, but he saw with satis- 
faction along the beach a great lot of drift huge trees 
which he believed had washed down some river course 


before being lung ashore by the Gulf winds. La Salle be- 
lieved that the Bay of St. Esprit was just ahead of him. 
The pilots, it seemed, were not in unanimous agreement 
about the exact position, but since none of them had yet 
sighted that Bay of the Holy Ghost and since, as one of 
the priests resignedly wrote, "longitude is unknown to 
pilots/ 5 the question was fruitful of argument rather than 

A day or so farther on, the Jolj got separated from the 
other two vessels in a fog. After sailing a day without 
sight of her they lay to and waited several days in the 
hope that she would come along. Here they noted astern 
breakers suggesting shoals offshore and some sort of open- 
ing in the coast. On January sixth, the Feast of Kings, 
while the Aimable still lay at anchor the little Belle recon- 
noitered the coast and returned to report a bay with an 
island between its outer points such as the maps showed 
at the opening into the Bay of St. Esprit. Assuming that 
they had now reached the Bay of the Holy Ghost as they 
had been momentarily expecting to do, La Salle sent a 
sailor up in the maintop to see what the land looked like. 
The sailor made out on one of those reported land points 
a tufted tree shaped like a great king's cake, and they 
named it Gateau in honor of the day. 

Since there might be some danger of going aground on 
those white-frilled reefs, they stood out to sea a league or 
so ; and there they swung at anchor for several days more 
while La Salle worried over his maps, which indicated 
no reefs before St. Esprit Bay, and twice sent boats back 
to reconnoiter. The men sent off added nothing to the 
Belle's first report of an island before an opening in the 
coast although one of them did say he believed the shoals 
outside might have been flung up there by the current of 


some river. La Salle considered landing a party for fur- 
ther exploration but the pilot was impatient and he him- 
self, as the days went by, was increasingly anxious about 
the Joly with his soldiers and ammunition aboard. So 
after some days they sailed on, arguing from the Jolfs 
superior speed that she must be ahead of rather than be- 
hind them. 

Hie journey was not without small event: Boats sent 
ashore for water returned bringing naked savage visitors 
who, before they plunged back into the stinging winter 
water with La Salle's gifts securely tied about their necks 
or knotted into their crests, conversed with him as best 
they could by signs. They viewed the cackling, grunt- 
ing barnyard penned up at the end of the ship and the 
drying skin of the cow which had had to be killed and 
sa i<l or seemed to say that they had animals like those. 
"We believed further that they were telling us there was 
a river toward those shoals" now some days behind. 
Still the two ships went on westward keeping so close in- 
shore that the travelers could see the sand dunes clearly 
and, when La Salle's Shawnee Nika with wilderness-sharp- 
ened senses pointed them out, men and deer and even buf- 
faloes the first Joutel had ever seen moving about on 
land. They took their observations daily. The latitude 
began to decline, marking a southward trend in the coast. 
La Salle grew uneasy. 

They were now in great need of fresh water and on 
January 17 made a vain attempt to get it, up a little river 
opening through a desolate reach of lagoons and sand and 
salt marshes. On January 18 La Salle sent the Aimable's 
long-boat to bring the Belle's officers over to give him their 
advice. He told them, according to a fragment of the 
Belle's log which has curiously survived, "that he had 


made a mistake." He wanted to turn back because "lie 
had passed the place where he ought to be." But his 
officers, believing the swifter Joly was certainly on ahead, 
insisted on going forward. "And we hove anchor and set 
sail and took our course southwest quarter south," But 
then they were becalmed and had to anchor again. The 
need for water being still unsatisfied, on January 19 at 
daylight the ships' boats, loaded with barrels and kegs for 
a second try up the same river, put off through a thick fog. 
As the sun came out and the fog thinned, those left aboard 
the Aimable and the Belle saw out upon the Gulf a sailing 
ship coming up out of the southwest. Was it the Joly 9 
lost from them now fifteen days, or was it a Spanish priva- 
teer? Whichever she was, she had obviously discovered 
them. Through the thinning fog they saw her haul in her 
mainsail, then her foresail, and, flying her topsails alone, 
steer straight at them. Le Salle recalled the boats with a 
gunshot and ordered the cannon got ready for defense, 
But as the ship drew in and the high sun routed the fog, 
they were rejoiced to see that she was, indeed, the Joly. 
She dropped anchor beside them and sent her boat along- 
side the Aimable with Captain Beaujeu*s lieutenant, at- 
tended by the Joly 9 s second pilot and a priest or so, to wait 
In embassy upon Monsieur de La Salle. 



DURING the fortnight of separation supplies had run low 
aboard the Joly. Ever since the shore had curved south 
the pilots, sure they were going too far, had been grum- 
bling mightily, trying to get Beaujeu to turn back; but 
Beaujeu had sworn he would push as far south as twenty- 
six-and-a-half degrees to hunt for La Salle, who, he felt 
sure, was keeping out of sight on purpose to leave the 
hundred-odd soldiers OE Beaujeu's hands to feed. Now 
Beaujeu's ambassadors, the moment they set foot on the 
deck of the Aimable, let La Salle have that ugly charge 
broadside. La Salle, indignant, countered by blaming 
Beaujeu. Had he not agreed that the Aimable and the 
Belle should keep alongshore and that the Joly, who had 
to stand out at a six-fathom depth, should follow them? 
High words flew, both aboard the Aimable now and a bit 
later aboard the Joly where La Salle went to confront the 
fuming captain. 

La Salle, during this altercation, appeared to D'Esman- 
ville, a priest aboard the Joly 9 very much embarrassed. 
And well he might seem confused, gnawed at as he was 
by a sickening conviction that he had missed his river his 
"fatal river" as Joutel sadly called it and stung by Beau- 
jeu's picayune accusations. The question of fixing the 
blame for the separation was not the only one to be fought 
out between these two. They must decide where they 
were now, and what to do next. 



They reviewed the journals of navigation studied 
once more their defective maps. It was fairly obvious 
that they had come too far, that the Bahama currents had 
not carried them east as they had expected. Starting new 
calculations that omitted the hypothesis of the currents, 
the pilots reckoned their present position at twenty or 
thirty leagues from the Madeleine River, and decided 
that every point they had previously touched at was well 
to the west of where they had supposed It; from what they 
had thought was Appalachee Bay to, and including, the 
shoals near which La Salle had lain at the Feast of Kings. 
Those shoals, now admitted to be not la front of the Bay 
of St. Esprit, as they had formerly believed,, but west of 
It, must indeed mark, as somebody had suggested at the 
time and the Indians had seemed to hint by signs, the 
mouth of a river In the westward reach of coast. Was it 
the Mississippi? The Idea, probably tentative enough 
at first, was destined to deepen in La Salle's mind accord- 
ing to Joutel and the Abbe Jean Into despairing convic- 
tion. Even Joutel and the Abbe Jean were to be haunted 
henceforth by the memory of that bar where the blue water 
rippled whitely; the far-seen point with the tufted tree 
which they had christened in honor of the king's cake; and 
the opening back Into the coast which, to their sharp regret, 
they had not explored when they had had the chance. 

La Salle told Beaujeu now about the shoals he had been 
near on January 6, which might, in view of the revised 
reckonings, mark one of the mouths of the Mississippi, 
and proposed that they sail back there. Beaujeu agreed 
if La Salle would give him provisions for the trip. La 
Salle consented; but when it came to the question of how 
much, they quarreled again. La Salle thought the journey 
would take two weeks and he was unwilling to deplete his 


own diminished stores by giving Beaujeu allowance for a 
longer time. Beaujeu said he would not go unless he 
had more. And there the matter hung. 

The next day boats went ashore from the Aimable 
and the Belle to take up the interrupted search for water, 
from the Joly to find wood. Beaujeu landed with his navi- 
gator's Instruments to check their position he made their 
latitude here twenty-seven degrees and fifty minutes. It 
was an unpromising coast: beyond the wide lagoons, a 
barren, sandy beach strewn with sand dunes, and beyond 
that endless mud fiats and reedy marshes stippled with 
pools of salt water. Some two-score of La Salle's peo- 
ple camped on the sand. The Canadian Barbier and La 
Salle's devoted Indian, Nika the Shawnee, went hunting 
and bagged, the first day ducks and bustard and teal and 
the day after that added two roebucks and a second tally 
of feathered game. La Salle sent a share to Captain Beau- 
jeu with that punctiliousness which marked always their 
bitterest passages. 

Meantime he was of course chafing with impatience, 
waiting to hear whether Beaujeu. would or would not sail 
back with him to look for his river. At last to the camp 
on the sands came D'Esmanville, the priest, to demand on 
Beaujeu's behalf what La Salle had decided about those 
provisions. La Salle abruptly determined to land his sol- 
diers. Perhaps, brooding on Beaujeu's charge that he had 
been trying to evade his promise to take them over at 
Espiritu Santo Bay, he wished to repudiate the imputa- 
tion with a single scornful gesture. Or perhaps he thought 
that if Beaujeu were relieved of a hundred-odd mouths to 
feed he might give over his demand for supplies. Cer- 
tainly he hoped that Beaujeu would now consent to sail 
back to examine those tantalizing shoals he said that 


clearly enough In the letter which he now wrote Beaujeu. 
In asking for the soldiers, he once more invoked those 
to Beaujeu maddening secret orders of the king concern- 
ing a mysterious enterprise for which La Salie had been 
sent here. The king had said Beaujeu at the end of the 
journey was to give La Salle whatever help he should ask. 
Well, La Salle was asking for his soldiers, nothing more. 
Except for asking Beaujeu to look further for his river, 
the letter was practically a dismissal "since you have 
happily conducted us to the land where his Majesty sent 
me." And La Salle dated it, with a touch of bravado, 
"from the mouth of one of the branches of the River Col- 
bert, or Mississippi." Moreover, he told D'Esmanville, 
the priestly messenger into whose hands he gave the letter, 
that he wished to march his troops against the Spaniards 
of New Biscay which shocked and horrified D'Esman- 
ville, a Spaniard who had come to the New World "to make 
war on demons, not Christians." It shocked, too, the 
Abbe Jean when D'Esmanville told him the news. If La 
Salle claimed his soldiers and so left Beaujeu free to go 
back to France would it not, the prudent abbe wondered, 
be wiser after all to stick by Beaujeu rather than La Salle? 
Before the soldiers could be landed came one of those 
northers they had so much dreaded. It was bitter cold: 
Nika the Shawnee going out to look for roebuck found a 
lake coated over with ice although that was hardly a mis- 
fortune, for dying fish lay about the edges of the lake and 
the shivering campers could boil them in salt water and 
make a good meal of them. After two days the wind 
changed and blew with great violence out of the southwest 
for two days more. It drove the Gulf water in across the 
cabins on the beach and the campers up on the sand dunes. 


It lashed the ships cruelly. The Aimable broke a cable 
and a bit of her prow, and the Belle lost an anchor. 

As soon as communication between ships and shore was 
again possible the Jolfs boat brought La Salle a letter 
written, Beaujeu himself was to tell Seignelay afterwards, 
"with irritation, because, it seemed to me we were losing 
too much time in that place, but nevertheless courteously, 
I did not keep a copy . . ." and La Salle, replying, wrote: 
"From the mouth of a river which I believe to be one of 
the discharges of the Mississippi: February 3, 1685: Mon- 
s j eur Your boat does not give me the leisure to respond 
to your letter with as much reflection as was possible to 
you in writing it although the bile which you therein 
vented suggests that you wrote it with a little more precip- 
itation than its length would demand. It is not my fault, 
Monsieur, that you have not already put into security the 
vessel of his Majesty. Nor do I know by what right you 
demand of me pilots to take her into this river where I 
never desired that she should enter any more than that she 
should stop on this beach. You can take her where you 
think best. I thank you for the charitable advice which 
you give me on the subject of the mouth of the river which 
you yourself told me you took for the entry to the bay." 
The question of water. The question of supplies. Men- 
tion of La Salle's cannon and balls and powder in the 
hold of the Joly. "The maledictions of your staff are 
occasioned by nothing in my conduct since it is not my 
fault that they missed the bay where they would be lying 
now and from which you know I had intended to seek out 
the Mississippi in the Belle. . . " 

Minet, who had been appointed in France to serve La 
Salle as engineer but who had been disaffected, Beaujeu 
had remarked, before ever they had left Rochefort and 


was now, it seems, completely attached to Beaujeu, came 
ashore to try to make La Salle yield to Beaujeu' s demand 
for provisions. Minet thought it unwise of La Salle to land 
his soldiers. "It is true it was none of my business," Minet 
was to admit afterwards. But all the same he resented 
furiously La Salle's prompt and angry repudiation of his 
unasked advice. 

The soldiers were landed if soldiers they could be 
called. They were a sorry troop, picked up by the con- 
scienceless subalterns of Rochefort at so much a head, 
lame, deformed, undersized: one, a blind man who would 
get himself lost on the march; all with no more training 
than could be afforded by an ocean voyage and two months* 
dissipation in a tropic port. Like the animals out of the 
ark they looked to Joutel, to whom, with La Salle's fire- 
brand nephew Moranget, was given the command of this 
scraggly army. To tell the truth Joutel, himself seasoned 
by sixteen or seventeen years as a soldier, would rather 
have had thirty good men than the whole hundred and 
twenty or thirty of them. La Salle gave them provisions 
and written orders and marched them oif not, after all, 
to the conquest 'of a golden eldorado shimmering in the 
west, but, more plausibly, northward up the Gulf Coast to 
reconnoiter its rivers. 

The ships lingered a few days longer at what Beaujeu 
called "that bad place"; and, to the last, boats plied back 
and forth between the Aimable and the Joly with messages 
from La Salle to Beaujeu and Beaujeu to La Salle. Ques- 
tions of navigation and a rendezvous in case of another 
separation "at the river which I have indicated to you 
... or, if it refuses me, at the Bay of St. Esprit." A 
receipt for the kettle you lent me at San Domingo. The 
Belle's lost anchor could the Joly lend another anchor 


or, if not, then her boat to help In dragging for the lost 
one? La Sailed quarrel with Minet "I do not recognize 
in Monsieur Minet any authority to write me as he has done 
a ministerial letter." Butter, cheese, tongues. La Salle's 
6,600 livres of iron aboard the Joly. New arrangements 
about his note to Beaujeu for, apparently, that hundred 
pistoles lent in France. Beaujeu's ultimate departure for 
home pushed aside for the present, seemingly forgotten. 
And always the irreconcilable bitterness of the two men 
swathed in the ornately courteous phrases imposed by the 
gentlemen's code of that day. 

They sailed on their reverse journey on February 7, 
and a week later the Joly and the Belle, in response to 
smoke signals sent up by Joutel ashore, put in toward the 
land where he had camped his army and came to anchor. 
The next day they were joined to the intense relief of 
Joutel, concerned for the safety of La Salle by the slower- 
paced Aimable. La Salle went ashore to visit what Joutel 
calls proudly "the post." The coast at this place was 
very like that which they had quitted sand, mud flats, 
reed-grown marshes, pools of salt water. But the drift 
floating out of the bay indicated a river La Salle hoped 
it might be that western channel he had noted in descend- 
ing the Mississippi. At least the land-locked bay would 
afford a harbor for the ships while he made sure. He set 
about sounding the pass as the pilots of the Joly and 
the Belle had already done before his arrival. There arose 
a dispute about the amount of water on the bar. Beaujeu 
declared there was only eight feet not enough for the 
Joly to enter and said he would go on to the river La 
Salle had spoken of or to St. Esprit Bay. La Salle hur- 
riedly expressed the polite regrets the occasion seemed to 
demand: "Monsieur, after having had the honor of making 


so long a voyage with you, it is not without sensible re- 
gret . . ." But he thought it would be hard indeed if 
Beaujeu should carry away his cannon and balls and 
powder and iron "particularly the powder and iron with- 
out which we can neither build, nor defend ourselves." 

The powder Beaujeu grudgingly granted. While it was 
being got out La Salle and the several pilots sounded the 
pass all over again. They found on the bar, not twelve feet 
of water as the pilot of the Belle had rashly declared nor 
the niggardly eight which was all Beaujeu would allow, 
but from nine at low tide to ten-and-a-half at high. The 
captain of the Aimable, given the choice of sailing on to 
St. Esprit Bay with Beaujeu or of entering, said if the 
Aimable were lightened she could come in easily. She 
needed only eight feet indeed he could enter the Joly 
if they would let him. The next day La Salle had the 
channel staked out with buoys. The day after that the 
little Belle came safely in. And on the next they began 
unloading the heavier part of the cargo in the Aimable. 

During all this business La Salle and Captain Beaujeu 
continued their letter-writing. Surely, never were brief 
and transient events more heavily documented. In five 
days they exchanged seven letters not counting the pilots* 
proces-verbal concerning the depth of the pass which Beau- 
jeu, who had once boasted of never navigating by legal 
writ, had demanded. La Salle continued to plead for his 
cannon and balls and iron which a sailor had told him 
Beaujeu could get at if he would and for a cask of twelve 
hundred knives with which he had hoped to buy food from 
the Indians. He thought Beaujeu should give up one of 
the Aimable sailors now aboard the Joly and certainly 
Minet the engineer. How could he build a fort without 
iron for nails, cannon for defense, or an engineer to draw 


Bis plans? And Beaujeu: "Monsieur, I assure you that it 
is with regret that I am obliged to quit you, for I should 
indeed have liked before leaving to see you established 
and to know that you had found that which you seek. . . . 
If only there had been twelve feet of water on the bar as 
the pilot of the Belle said, I should have attempted to 
enter by lightening my vessel, in order to go with you to 
search for your river, which must surely fall into the lake 
near here* . . ." 

But to get out in his unsheltered position the iron and 
cannon and balls was a thing impossible surely Captain 
Beaujeu's word was worth more than that of a common 
sailor. However, he would wait at St. Esprit Bay through 
March, and La Salle could send the Belle there for his 
things. As to the case of knives alleged to be on the Joly 
La Salle was simply mistaken "nothing gets lost in the 
ships of the king." Beaujeu would not give up the Aim- 
able 9 s sailor and he considered Monsieur Minet the master 
of his own movements. The mannerly captain felt hurt 
at La Salle's lack of confidence in him; and once more he 
placed himself entirely at La Salle's service. If La Salle 
wished, he would sail the Joly not to the moon as he had 
once hilariously suggested but, far more practically, to 
Martinique for supplies. "Indeed there is nothing I would 
not do. You have only to speak." 

La Salle was puzzled how to answer Beaujeu's offer to 
go to Martinique, Fretted by the captain's smoothly stub- 
born indifference to his bitter need of the things in the 
Jolfs hold, harassed by getting his dispatches to the 
court ready to go by the Joly "I am not a man who loves 
to write much" and busy with his preparations to bring 
the Aimable into port he was, doubtless, unable to get a 
clear perspective on the proposal. If he accepted Beau- 


jeu's offer, tow would it appear in France? Would 
Seignelay be angry at the extra expense? What certainty 
was there that the intendant of the Islands would honor a 
plea for supplies? Would it not be better, if Beaujeu 
really intended waiting at St. Esprit to hear from him by 
the Belle next month, to defer decision until then? By that 
time perhaps he would have results to report which would 
satisfy the intendant of the Islands and even the king that 
he had a right to ask for help. Again he begged for his 

"Monsieur/ 9 Beaujeu answered, "in order to convince 
you that my greatest passion is to contribute to the success 
of your affair, I have had your iron got out against the 
advice of my officers and seamen who told me I was risk- 
ing my vessel to rummage her hold on a beach like this 
in seas as high as mountains." But since he would have 
to replace the iron with six of the Jolfs cannon as ballast, 
he still found it impossible to give La Salle his cannon and 
balls. However, the Aimable's guns would be more than 
enough to defend the establishment not only against the 
savages but even he continued merrily against all the 
Spaniards in America, who were by no means so bad as 
commonly pictured. And surely La Salle hardly needed 
an engineer, knowing himself so much more than Minet, 
"with whom you have many times told me you could easily 
dispense. . . ." La Salle would far better stop bothering 
about trifles and get to work on his establishment if, that 
is, "you have as much passion as you claim to have for the 
glory of the king and the honor of the Marquis de Seigne- 
lay. . . :* 

On February 20 the Aimable was to come in. The day 
before, her captain had brought her up to a two-and-a-half- 
fathom depth to have her ready to enter at the next day's 


high tide. La Salle sent the pilot of the Belle to her, and 
Beaujeu^and his pilot also went over from the Joly, but 
the captain said he would sail his ship without anybody's 
help, and he sent word to La Salle on shore that all he was 
waiting for was the smoke signal to apprise him of high 
tide. La Salle, wanting to be aboard when the Aimable 
should come in, was just setting foot in the boat to go 
out to her when two of his workmen came running up to 
him, out of breath and utterly terrified. They with five 
companions while felling a great tree which La Salle had 
selected for making a pirogue had been surrounded by a 
swarm of Indians, and all but these two captured. La 
Salle promptly turned back from the beach, ordered his 
people to arm themselves, and with beating drums marched 
oif to rescue his kidnaped men. 

He overtook the Indians quickly enough, but he was un- 
willing either to employ force or to content himself with 
recovering his men alone when the encounter might just 
as well be made to yield him the savages' friendship, too. 
So he entered upon one of those tedious parleys at which 
he was so adept: the mutual laying down of arms, the white 
men's patient submission to caresses accompanied by cluck- 
ings like those of a hen to her chicks, and finally the slow 
rites of hospitality proffered and reciprocally accepted. 
La Salle went through the ceremony by rote alone, his 
mind upon his ship. While he led his Indian guests back 
to the camp on the beach, and there entertained them, the 
hour of high tide was drawing near. When the visitors, 
sated with food and jingling with hardware, rose to go, it 
was time to kindle the fire whose smoke would tell the 
Aimable to come in. 

The Indians' fishing village where La Salle and some of 
his men must now go to accept return hospitality was a 


league and a half away up the inward curving bay-shore; 
and the way to it ran along the beach with a view of the 
harbor, the pass, and the open Gulf. The three ships were 
all in sight: the little Belle snug inside the sheltered harbor, 
and the Joly and the Aimable lying outside in the Gulf. 
La Salle, looking back over his shoulder, would be able to 
watch the Aimable come in through the pass as he suffered 
himself to be led away along the beach by the savages 
now so friendly that they hoisted young Colin, his nephew, 
to their shoulders and caressed him as they moved along. 
Behind them, the Aimable spread her sails. The sight 
of the unfurled canvas poising white as gulls* wings over 
the Gulf delighted the Indians, but La SaUe was troubled. 
He had ordered that his ship be towed across the bar, and 
here she was coming in under sail instead. Watching her 
narrowly as she got under way, he said to Joutel: "Those 
people are steering wrong. They are standing toward the 
shoals." A bit later a cannon shot shook the air. The 
Indians fell flat on the ground with terror. La Salle gazed 
across their prostrate bodies to the far Aimable 9 and, while 
his ears still held the echo of that distress gun, he saw her 
furl her sails. So she was aground. He was sickeningly 
sure of it. 

He moved forward even less aware than before of what 
went on around him. Let Joutel note for his journal the 
ways of Indian fishermen with a porpoise beached in an 
inlet; the naked men sentinels no doubt crouched in the 
tall grass outside the fishing village; the oven-like huts 
covered with rush mats or dried skins; the Indians' habit 
of setting a foot on their porpoise meat when they hacked 
at it with a stone cleaver; the skin petticoats and tattooed 
faces of the women. The one detail able to strike in to La 
Salle's consciousness was the presence, among forty canoes 


of various sorts beached near the huts, of several hollowed 
wooden pirogues such as he had seen upon the Mississippi. 
He remarked that his river could not be very far away 
now. But thereupon he lapsed into even deeper melan- 
choly. At last they turned homeward along the bay-shore. 
All the way Joutel pressed close beside La Salle, saying 
to him over and over that perhaps the affair was not so 
bad as he imagined it. 

But it was. The Aimable was indeed aground and 
that, many believed, by treachery. At the camp on the 
beach, aboard the ships, the air reverberated with accusa- 
tions. It was said that a sailor in the Aimable 9 s maintop 
on seeing her getting out of the channel marked by the 
buoys had cried a warning. But "although he continually 
cried 'Lufl* the malicious captain had, contrarily, com- 
manded, 4 Come on/ " When she had touched, the cap- 
tain's maneuvers had been the very opposite of what they 
should have been and had only served to drive her harder 
on the reef. When the Jolfs boat in answer to the distress 
gun had come over to help, there could not even be found 
a hatchet to cut a cable that needed to be loosed. 

Now she was hopelessly grounded. There was nothing 
to do but to set about saving what she carried, for, though 
so much lightened, she still held nearly all of the provi- 
sions, ammunition, and tools. Beaujeu lent the Joly's 
boat, and, as soon as the crew was landed, they began 
taking out the meal and the powder. But they encountered 
every sort of mischance. The wind blew in from the offing 
and threatened to grind the ship to pieces. Her masts 
would have to be cut, but the surly captain opposed it; 
and nobody was willing to begin until Father Membre 
seized a hatchet and swung a mighty blow at the mainmast. 
The salvaged casks and kegs had to be heaped anyhow on 


the beach and Indians prowled in and out among them, 
pilfering, as was later to appear. The Indians 9 presence 
made La Salle uneasy about his powder particularly 
when a grass-fire crept out of the country toward it. He 
had as much of it as possible put aboard the Belle with 
Joutel to guard it. The salvaging went slowly. The Aim- 
able 9 s boat, after having drifted away once and been found, 
was again lost. 

The hold of the Aimable held still a mine of riches 
lard, beef, meal, vegetables, sixty barrels of wine, four 
cannon, sixteen hundred and twenty balls, four hundred 
grenades, four thousand pounds of iron, five thousand 
pounds of lead, the anvil for the forge and stones for the 
mill, cordage, boxes of guns and workmen's tools, nearly 
all of the baggage of soldiers and colonists, nearly all of 
the drugs, trading-gear hatchets, tobacco, knives with 
which corn could be bought from the Indians. With all 
these things yet aboard though the captain had got off 
all his effects down to his last pot of jam the ship broke 
up. It happened in the night. Joutel coming on the 
deck of the Belle at morning saw the water all about strewn 
with floating bales and boxes. La Salle sent the boats 
scurrying in every direction to pick up what they could 
which was little enough, and that little all water-soaked. 

They dried out the meal as they could and then wet it 
again with salt water to boil their hasty pudding. The 
rations were dealt out, Joutel says, very "discreetly" ; but, 
as little food as they had, they had not enough pots to cook 
it in. What with the wretched diet and the corrosive effect 
of the salt water on their stomachs and the diseases con- 
tracted at San Domingo, people sickened and died, accord- 
ing to Minet the engineer, at the rate of five or six a day. 

La Salle, needing canoes, despatched his nephew Mor- 


anget with some other young hotheads to the Indian village 
up the bay to barter for some. The young men on arriv- 
ing there, angered to see on some of the women petticoats 
cut from good Norman blankets and scattered here and 
there among the huts bits of iron from the wrecked ship, 
took on themselves the administration of justice, admon- 
ished the savages with show of guns; and, when the fright- 
ened Indians had fled, seized some of their canoes in re- 
prisal and set off for home. They knew, of course, nothing 
of canoeing; had no paddles, only some wretched poles 
with which they made but little headway; were overtaken 
by nightfall on their way back to camp; landed on the 
bay-shore, made a fire and slept. The angry Indians 
attacked, killed two of them and wounded three others with 
arrows, poisoned or not, as time alone could tell. 

La Salle was crushed: his dearly-bought friendship with 
the Indians was set at nought; two of his most spirited 
youths were dead; among the wounded lay his rash but 
beloved nephew, Moranget. Only the day before La Salle 
had reopened with Beaujeu the question of the proposed 
journey to Martinique. Now, with the Aimable lost, that 
journey became far more necessary. A little more, and 
the Joly would be gone beyond recall. But stricken with 
grief for his young men, the flower of his halt flock, La 
Salle was, he wrote Beaujeu, unable to devise plans. Beau- 
jeu said again that he was willing to go. And he would 
take the crew of the Aimable back to France if La Salle 
would give him three of the six barrels of lard saved from 
the wreck and four barrels of meal, surely a fair proposal 
since if Beaujeu should refuse to take the Aimable 9 s crew 
La Salle would have to feed them anyway. But he would 
not lend La Salle the boat of the Joly to explore this "lake" 
even for one day. Beaujeu hoped La Salle was not going 


to lose his nephew but Beaujeu always had said the young 
man lacked experience. Maybe this little afiair would 
teach him a lesson. And Captain Beaujeu, himself a man 
of order, was not a little annoyed at the lack of form he 
observed in La Salle 9 s proces-verbal charging the wreck 
of the Aimable to her captain's criminal negligence. 

At last, near the middle of March, the furious scribbling 
was over. La Salle was Beaujeu' s very humble and obedi- 
ent servant for the last time. The last laborious page of the 
despatches to the court had been finished: the sworn writs 
legal or illegal as to form ; and the final letter to Seigne- 
lay "from the western mouth of the River Colbert," im- 
ploring Seignelay's confidence a little longer, announcing 
La Salle's intention to go up the river at once to establish 
connection with the Illinois and promptly thereafter to 
begin the * 'enter prise" meaning of course the march 
against New Biscay. And now Beaujeu, promising to wait 
for news at St. Esprit, perhaps really meaning to, was gone 
with his sailors and D'Esmanville, the outraged Spanish 
priest; and Minet, the engineer; and the captain of the 
Aimable and all his crew. La Salle on the beach, facing 
away from the harbor with the solitary Belle a-rock upon 
her cable, saw, where the Joly had lain for so many weeks, 
the wide and empty Gulf. 



THE people left behind, numbering something less than 
two hundred as nearly as can be estimated from the various 
accounts, were ill and dispirited, more like outcasts than 
colonists. La Salle had them gather up the timbers and 
planks of the wrecked ship and the drift logs on the beach 
and begin at once to build a sort of fort in the lee of the 
sand dunes. This beach was of course utterly unfit for 
permanent settlement lacking wood, fresh water, soil for 
planting, all promise of near-by hunting, and being, be- 
sides, exposed to discovery by any Spanish ship which 
might come along searching the shore for French invaders. 
But the late amity with the neighboring Indians having 
changed into something very like a state of war, La Salle 
could not so much as go to look for a better situation until 
he had put his languishing forces and the precious litter of 
salvaged kegs and boxes under shelter. So he devoted the 
better part of two weeks to this task. As soon as the build- 
ing was far enough along to be reasonably defensible, he 
delegated the finishing of it, and its command, to Joutel 
nominally also to Moranget still lying ill of his arrow 
wounds and himself set off with a detachment of men, 
four canoes and the boat of the Joly to explore the bay for 
a better site and to reassure himself that he surely was, as 
he had asserted, at the western mouth of his river. 

He did not for the present attempt to examine that vast 
land-locked bay or "lake" stretching indefinitely up 



the northeastward shore, but followed instead an arm of 
water cutting westward back into the coast. He ordered the 
Belle brought into this bay as far as possible about half- 
way up, that proved to be. From the place where she had 
to anchor he pushed on in canoes. He soon discovered, 
to his deep disappointment, that no large river had an out- 
let here. However, he did find, up a little river flowing 
into the northwest corner of the bay, a site feasible for 
settlement a good elevation with fresh water and an 
abundance of game and fish. True, the nearest timber for 
building was a league away across the prairie and the fact 
that the Belle could come no nearer than halfway up the 
bay was certainly a disadvantage. But a further search 
around the bay-shore revealed nothing better; and the need 
to get his people settled was fast becoming imperative. 

Sickness was still rife. Aboard the Belle the captain 
died with some of his sailors. At the camp on the beach 
where La Salle looked in for a visit at Easter, things were 
no better. Joutel was a good commander, a man with com- 
mon sense and a stout heart. When the Indians prowled 
close about the frail fort at night simulating the howling of 
wolves and the barking of dogs, he had muskets fired a 
few times to scare them off. Or if they came more openly, 
he spread wet blankets on the roof to protect it from pos- 
sibly fire-tipped arrows. He restrained the rash Moranget, 
now happily well of his wound, from knocking out the 
brains of visiting Indian diplomats. When a Spanish sail 
passed in the Gulf so near that Joutel could make out men 
on the decks beneath, he held every one close inside the 
fort behind the dune so there should be no flicker of move- 
ment to attract the seamen's eyes. He established among 
his people such orderly and industrious pursuits as the 
situation permitted, having salt gathered from the pools in 


the sand, spreading nets for mullet, harpooning the native 
flounder, building an oven of clay, and now at La Salle's 
order, squaring up timbers for the new fort up-river from 
the drift which the Gulf flung ashore. But Joutel could 
not keep his people alive. Scurvy and venereal diseases 
were taking their almost daily toll. One of the amateur 
fishermen had been drowned swimming around the mullet 
nets. And the Sieur Le Gros, La Salle's trusted commis- 
sary, on Easter day got a rattlesnake bite of which God 
alone knew whether he could recover. 

The projected post up-river with freshwater springs and 
abundant game may well have taken on, in everybody's 
eyes, the color of a promised land. All looked to La Salle, 
of course, to transport them there promptly, whatever the 
difficulties. He had the Belle unloaded at her anchorage 
halfway up the bay, flung up on shore at that point a hasty 
entrenchment of boxes and kegs to shelter her stores, and 
set the heavy wooden pirogues plying from there up-river 
on the tedious business of transport. He seems to have 
guessed, correctly enough, that Beaujeu had not stopped 
to wait for word of him. At any rate no effort to send a 
message to St. Esprit Bay was allowed to interrupt the 
business of settlement. He put some of his men to break- 
ing ground for planting at the new site, and some he sent 
across the prairie to hunt and buccan meat for his unbuilt 
storehouse. But his smallest effort met delay and frustra- 
tion. His men, untaught in any craft, intractable to any 
discipline, seemed bent on unfitting themselves further by 
illness. Sent off along the river with the pirogues, they 
were hardly out of his sight when they drank salt water 
and ate strange fruits and either died along the way or 
returned to him languishing. 

In the beginning of June, at La Sailers summons, Mor- 


anget led the first detachment up from the Gulf Coast camp. 
It was mid- July when Joutel with a rear-guard of thirty 
arrived at the new post. The site, after the barren beach, 
must surely have appeared agreeable an eminence look- 
ing back over the valley and the river twisting down to- 
ward the bay and inland over thickly flowered prairies 
astir with buffalo herds and tufted with pleasant groves. 
But Joutel felt a shock of dismay to see the establishment 
"so ill begun and so little advanced." 

The seed and grain which La Salle had planted had been 
ruined by drought or eaten by birds or beasts. People 
were dying at an alarming rate. Many lay ill, among 
them the Abbe Jean Cavelier. The only sort of shelter 
was a little square of logs housing the powder and a few 
kegs of brandy. La Salle had been counting on building 
his main structure, of which he had already drawn the 
plans, of the Aimable timbers and those driftwood logs 
which Joutel had squared on the coast. Indeed he had 
ordered Joutel to stay behind on purpose to fashion those 
timbers into a raft and float them up the bay and river. 
But Joutel, thwarted by a prolonged spell of bad weather 
not to mention a near mutiny among his men, with threat 
of death to himself and Le Gros, still ill of his rattlesnake 
bite had after all buried the timber In the sand and come 
off without it. Now their only resource was that grove a 
league away. 

La Salle sent men there to cut down and square the 
trees, but the ignorance of even his head carpenter was so 
great that he had himself to mark each piece according to 
the plan which he had in mind. The men had then to 
harness themselves to the timbers and drag them across 
that league of prairie grass with the mid-summer southern 
sun beating down on their straining shoulders. After a 


bit ttey did use a gun carriage, but even then the toil was 
so excessive that the strongest failed under it. Joutel 
begged La Salle to let him try again to float the Aimable 
imbers up from the Gulf Coast, but La Salle, who had 
uften enough said in JoutePs hearing that he wanted no 
councilors in his train, paid no attention. Every disap- 
pointment, every lack, he strove to compensate by his 
Iriving energy. The more things failed the more he sought 
o master them by sheer strength of will. But July was 
Dassing. By now, according to his promise to Seignelay, 
le should have been back from the Illinois, starting the 
'enterprise." Joutel, watching him sadly, guessed that the 
measiness he suffered "to see nothing succeed as he had 
magined it" was making him a hard master. And Joutel 
>elieved that sternness was as hard on the men as the heavy 
oil and the poor nourishment. Certainly they did not 
hrive. The fevers and other diseases brought from San 
Domingo met little resistance. In a short time there were 
hirty graves in the new grave-yard. 

However, timber enough for a building was at last 
bagged across the prairie and the new fort was begun. 
He chief carpenter having got himself lost forever in 
'eturning one day from the logging place, La Salle had 
o mark out every mortice and tenon with his own hand. 
Che blacksmith hammered out nails on a cannon in lieu 
>f the anvil lost in the Aimable as long as he lived, that 
s, for the blacksmith "soon died like so many others." 
Jut somehow walls rose from the ground. La Salle did 
n the end let Joutel with twenty men fetch the logs and 
)lanks buried on the Gulf beach; and a second structure 
>f good stout timbers rose beside the first, larger than it, 
said Joutel proudly, and handsomer, too, though built 
ike it "a la mode de Canada," and roofed with old planks 


on which buffalo hides were nailed down to keep out the 
rain. At the four comers of this double blockhouse they 
mounted their eight cannon for which they had no balls 
at all and at need would have to load with sacks of shot. 
Some of the men set up cabins around the main structure, 
but the nights were warm and many continued to sleep 
under the stars. 

Late in August the Sieur Le Gros submitted to the ampu- 
tation of his poisoned leg; but gangrene had already set 
in, and after two days he died. Still, the epidemic mor- 
tality seems now to have slackened. The Abbe Jean, for 
one, was getting well. By September La Salle was making 
ready to set oil to look for his river through that great bay 
which paralleled the northeastward coast St. Louis Bay 
he named it "in praise of the king and of the country called 
Louisiana." Of the hundred-odd people who now re- 
mained to him he told off thirty-four, including several of 
the priests and the women and children, to stay at the fort 
and had the rest get ready to go with him. 

He gave Joutel command of the new fort which he 
named St. Louis, too and an inventory of the stores 
that he was leaving, and written instructions for every 
emergency. And then toward the end of October he had 
the Belle made ready. Expecting, as he certainly did, to 
take her soon into the mouth of his river, he put the best 
of all he had aboard her. His permanent establishment, 
of course, must be on the Mississippi, and the more the 
Belle transported thither on her first trip the better. So 
down the little river to her anchorage he sent chests packed 
with all the clothes, linen, papers and other possessions of 
himself, of the ecclesiastics and other gentlemen of the 
company; merchandise for Indian trading; some powder 
and arms; tools; provisions of smoked meat, lard, butter. 


wine, brandy, vinegar, salt, bread, flour. He even pro- 
vided livestock for his Mississippi colony: eight little pigs 
which one of the San Domingo sows had brought into the 
world six weeks earlier. 

A little before All Saints 9 Day the travelers strapped on 
their breastplates fashioned of lath to protect them from 
Indian arrows, made their adieux to the party who should 
hold the fort, and to a parting salute of five guns (loaded 
with powder alone) stepped into the hollowed log canoes 
and set off down-river toward the anchorage of the Belle. 
La Salle planned, for the greater safety of his ship, to 
examine the shore by means of the canoes, leaving her to 
follow at a safe depth offshore and expecting her to anchor 
every night opposite his bivouac on the beach. 

But this excellent plan was not followed. And the 
journey, by his own telling, had from the start the dis- 
jointed, retarded quality of a nightmare. He and part 
of his land force became involved at the very outset in 
a skirmish with Indians. Returning from this foray he 
found those of his men whom he had left in camp nearly 
all sick or dying from a "sort of apples" they had found in 
the wood, and he suffered a long delay to nurse them. The 
Belle meantime had gone on, with the pilot and five sailors 
sounding ahead of her in a canoe. La Salle, following 
to learn how they were faring, found strewn on the beach 
the wolf -mangled corpses of the pilot and his five sailors, 
massacred by Indians, beside ashes marking where they 
had heedlessly camped. 

Whether because the loss of the pilot made him fearful 
of attempting to navigate the Belle farther or because, as 
he implies, the health of so many of his men had proved 
unequal to the exploration, he now put aboard ship all 
those who were unfit to travel and restocked the vessel with 


smoked meat and fresh water. Ordering her mate to hold 
her at anchorage exactly where he quitted her, he went 
on with his stoutest twenty. 

Beyond that it is impossible to say precisely what hap- 
pened. La Salle sank his canoes that must have been 
at the northeastward end of the bay and from there, 
shouldering a heavy load of hatchets, awls, beads and ver- 
milion for the Indians in addition to ammunition and sup- 
plies for themselves, they all pushed on afoot to a river 
later on to be named the Maligne, where the elder Duhaut 
got separated from the main column either designedly or, 
as he would maintain on return to the fort, because Moran- 
get, La Salle's nephew, refused to wait for him when he 
stopped to mend his shoes. The Abbe Jean, gathering by 
the way pearls to dazzle Paris gem-merchants, specimens 
of richly colored clay for French dyers, gold ore and tales 
of near-by Spaniards, was to treasure of the whole journey 
memories too fantastic to trust. La Salle's account, so 
oddly dream-like from the first, dwindles, after he leaves 
the Belle, to a few scattered sentences. He encountered, 
he says, thirty-five days of rain; and, plunging always 
through woods and flooded country, he crossed thirty little 
streams, before he came to what the Abbe Jean described 
as "a pretty large river which my brother thought might 
be the Mississippi, though its course was all wrong . . ." 
Did he even surely march toward it? Or did he instead 
go the other way toward eldorado? Was it on that road 
that the Abbe Jean garnered pearls and gold ore? Indians 
along the Rio Bravo would soon be testifying in New 
Biscay to visits from white men who sang with them and 
danced with them and gave them copper ladles, ribbons 
and beads, and asked them how far it was to where the 
Spanish were mining silver. 


At Fort St. Louis the slow weeks wheeled by. Joutel 
enjoined patience it was not to be expected that the Sieur 
de La Salle could reach the Illinois and get back again 
in a few days* Still they must all have watched for La 
Salle continually across the rolling prairie, from which 
Joutel, to guard against Indian surprise, had cut down 
the single clump of trees near enough to obscure their 
sweeping view. Surely they all kept a look-out: Joutel 
himself mounting the housetop to spy out buffaloes; the 
four sentries perpetually posted at the "four corners of the 
fort; the hunters; the detachments sallying out to fetch 
water from the spring or wood from the groves. Some- 
times at dawn by a "phenomenon of reflection" the land- 
scape, so long gazed at, shifted and changed before their 
eyes; trees became mountains, and low brush lofty trees. 
Joutel mounting to the roof seemed to see bodies of men 
advancing in battle array. 

But in the main they kept stout hearts, and Joutel at 
least saw through sane, clear eyes the procession of life 
which marched past as the seasons melted one into the 
other: the oaks always green which do not shed their leaves 
like those of France; palmettos; prickly pear which flow- 
ers near the leaf and bears a fruit fatal to eat unless one 
first rubs off the nettles; mulberries in spring, grapes in 
fall, along the river courses; a plant with dagger-sharp 
leaves and bearing on a single stem a great bouquet of 
creamy blossoms; the wild flowers of all sorts and colors, 
clustered so thickly that all the prairie seemed enameled. 
"I have seen some that smelled like a tuberose, but the 
leaf resembles our borage. I have seen primroses having 
a scent like ours, African gilliflower, and a sort of purple 
windflowers. The autumn blooms being mostly yellow 
the whole country appeared then of that color." 


The reeds of a near-by marsh fluttered ceaselessly with 
ducks, teal, water fowl of all sorts. Buffaloes and deer 
cropped the prairie grasses. Wild turkeys and partridges 
spoke in the groves and thickets. There were horned toads, 
rattlesnakes, a bird they called "Great Gullet." "I have 
been told there are similar ones at Versailles which are 
called pelicans." One sort of eagle they named the Nun 
because it wore a white collar and cap. Fish of all sorts in 
river and bay alligators, too, of course, which Joutel 
never spared if they came too near the habitation. Oysters 
almost too many, for when the men waded out to beach 
the heavy wooden pirogues the shells cut their naked feet 
and the stinging salt water got into the cuts. 

Hunger drove them early to hunt the strange buffalo. 
At first it seemed impossible to do more than wound him. 
Father Anastasius Douay went too near a wounded bull, 
got his long robe tangled in the tall grass, was rolled on 
the ground and trampled, but was luckily not gored. 
Joutel after vainly wounding any number and crawling 
about after them till there was no skin on his knees, killed 
his first. Soon afterward he was calling the buffalo's meat 
"our daily bread" and declaring the marrow as sweet as 
any butter. Father Maximus Le Clerc, a handy priest, be- 
came adept as a butcher of buffalo meat though once, 
lingering too late at his pleasant task upon the prairie, he 
tranquilly followed along a buffalo path a low-lying star 
which he took for a fire burning at the fort and, but for 
chancing on the river, might have lost himself completely. 
The girls and women went out, too, to help with dressing 
the hunters' kill; and one girl was lost for two nights be- 
fore she, like Father Maximus, found the river, and made 
her way back again to the fort. 

Twice they heard from La Salle, once by some soldiers 


sent back as promised with one of the canoes, and later, 
about the middle of January, by the elder Duhaut, whose 
arrival puzzled Joutel no little. Duhaut was not furnished 
with any writing from La Salle marked, as agreed, "In the 
name of the Holy Trinity"; and, in strict accordance to 
orders, Joutel should not have received him. However, 
Joutel, knowing Moranget, thought Duhaut's story of losing 
contact with the main column through Moranget's head- 
strong refusal to wait for him rang true. And Duhaut had, 
besides, suffered greatly on his solitary journey back to the 
fort. So Joutel took him in. 

Once they found Indian arrows planted beside the spring 
and a flurry of fear ran through the log buildings. But 
Joutel had been very strict about sentry duty from the first, 
sentencing to the wooden horse any who slept on watch. 
So, in spite of the warning arrows, they continued un- 
molested. In February they began to plant: broad beans 
and French wheat which did not come up, spoiled no 
doubt by salt water and some seeds of chicory, beets, 
celery, asparagus, melons, pumpkins, even some cotton seed 
brought from San Domingo, all of which sprouted under 
the southern sun. 

On a day late in March Joutel, mounted on the house- 
top, saw far off across the prairie seven or eight men com- 
ing toward the fort. He climbed down, called some of his 
people, among the rest Duhaut, to take guns, and went out 
from the block-house to meet them. They were Li' Salle, 
his brother the Abbe Jean, their nephew Moranget and 
gome of their men, all in rags, the Abbe Jean's short cas- 
sock in tatters so small that it would have been hard to find 
a morsel big enough to tie up a farthing-worth of salt. 

There were embraces to mark a meeting after so many 
months of separation, but there were immediate reproaches. 


Why had Joutel received that deserter Duhaut? La Salle's 
anger cooled when Joutel explained and Duhaut told his 
story. Back at the fort the travelers refreshed themselves 
with bread and brandy there being no wine left now and 
La Salle spoke with eager warmth of the beautiful country 
through which they had traveled. But it soon became ap- 
parent that he had not brought the news they were wanting 
to hear. For, whatever he had thought at "the pretty large 
river" of the Abbe Jean's account, where he had, it seems, 
built a post and left some men, it was not, he now said, his 
river. He had not found it. 

And worse news was on its way on the very next day 
after his arrival at Fort St. Louis a detachment of his 
people sent around by the bay to the anchorage at which 
he had in January left the Belle arrived to report that she 
was gone. Without her how could he hope to go on with 
his search? How move the colony? How send to San 
Domingo for relief? How get news to France? He had 
loaded the Belle with the best of his stores and a good num- 
ber of the men who had set off with him from the fort. The 
very mystery of her disappearance tortured him. He was 
obsessed with the suspicion that she had fled. He could 
pick out the traitors aboard who would contrive that mad 
desertion, forcing the faithful few to their will. Joutel in- 
sisted she might have wrecked and offered to go around the 
bay to make sure, but La Salle seemed unable to listen. 
Clouds of gloom enveloped him. 

It was more than a year now since Beaujeu had sailed 
away in the Joly. The succession of bloom upon the prairie 
was already beginning to repeat itself. The little shoots in 
JoutePs garden were renewing the vain conflict with the 
insects and rabbits which had done for La Salle's plantings. 
The last married man had lately died. Now there was no 


more family life only widows and girls unwed, taking 
their turn with the men at sentry duty, dressing the meat the 
hunters killed. A strange sterile colony. The one female 
goat, barren, had been killed for meat during the sickness 
of last summer. They had one cock and one ben but the 
eggs were either infertile or spoiled by heat for, though the 
hen had repeatedly tried to sit, she bad not ever brought 
off a brood. Only the pigs seemed able to multiply. Both 
sows had littered again and now there was a drove of pigs 
wallowing and squealing in the new trench which Joutel, 
following La Salle's orders, had dug around the fort. 
Joutel had managed to add a thatched log barrack with 
separate lodging for the women but the buildings had still 
no palisade and no chapel. The buffalo hides on the plank 
roofs had shriveled and cracked in the sun instead of 
keeping out the rain they stored up little pools of it in their 
wrinkles and made the old planks leak when the rain was 
over. Was this then the sum of all his striving a forlorn 
and fruitless outpost on the bank of a tiny unknown river? 

During that year life had not stood still in the world be- 
yond their horizon. The Joly, pushing straight through the 
Gulf without stopping, though she met corsairs and other 
adventure, .reached France in midsummer. The Marquis 
de Seignelay, after examining the voluminous files pre- 
sented by Beaujeu, decided that La Salle had been badly 
treated at least he ordered Beaujeu not to decry the 
enterprise and clapped into the tower at La Rochelle both 
the captain of the Aimable and the engineer Minet, writer 
of ministerial letters. But peace with Spain had inter- 
vened to dim the luster of the New Biscay dream for 
Seignelay. Perhaps the English court as the Spanish 
ambassador at London was to report to his king was al- 


ready beginning to hint a remonstrance to Louis on behalf 
of Spanish colonies. Certainly neither reinforcements 
under "Monsieur Ste. Foi" nor any other form of relief 
for La Salle's colony was sent out by Louis XIV and his 

News of La Salle's expedition had leaked to the Span- 
iards not, as he had feared by the ketch captured in the 
West Indies, but during the folio-wing autumn by way of 
a French corsair taken by Spaniards and one Denis 
Thomas who had quitted the expedition at Petit Goave. 
From Thomas the Spanish of Vera Cruz heard of a place 
called Mississippi found by one Monsieur de Salas after 
a search of eighteen years and a journey of five hundred 
leagues down a very large river; of the discoverer's having 
been honored in France by the king with gift of a chest of 
golden louis and the titles of marquis and viceroy of the 
lands he had discovered; and of his having come the year 
before with ships and men and cannon to conquer certain 
rich mines not far from Mississippi* Forthwith the Span- 
iards consulted their maps. In the little-known reach of 
coast from Appalachee to Panuco, Espiritu Santo Bay ap- 
peared the likeliest spot for a colony. Promptly they set 
about organizing the first of what would prove to be nine 
expeditions by land and sea to search for the French col- 
ony, Espiritu Santo Bay, and Mississippi, considered by 
them to be all in the same spot. 

Meantime report of Beaujeu's return to France and the 
plight in which he had left La Salle traveled to Canada on 
the ships of the year. By autumn it reached Michilli- 
mackinac whither Tonty had gone from "the Rock" in the 
Illinois country to have news of La Salle. By the middle 
of February that staunch friend with twenty-five French- 
men and ten Indians, taking supplies and bark canoes for 


an expedition of relief, set off southward from "the Rock/' 
dragging their load on sleds along the ice. During that 
same month a Spanish sea captain was examining the nor- 
thern Gulf Coast from Appalachee west, noting as he came 
to them: "the best bay I have seen in my life" where lived 
the Panzacola Indians; west of that a very large but very- 
shallow bay where the Mobila tribe lived; some way west 
of that the mouth of a great river so choked with drift 
that he could not enter "Rio de la Palizada," he named 
it. He was then driven by a storm so far offshore that he 
returned to Vera Cruz, believing that if he could only have 
looked a little farther beyond this Palisades River, say 
thirty leagues, he would have found Espiritu Santo Bay 
with the Mississippi River flowing into it and the French 
colony planted on its banks. 

Now, in April, while seas of wild bloom broke at the 
feet of the colony lost in the far Southwest Tonty came to 
the mouth of the Mississippi. Finding no sign of his friend 
there, he sent out two canoes, one to the east and one to the 
west, to explore the coast. But neither canoe found any- 
thing to report along the empty beach. High water had 
washed away the column bearing the king's arms which 
La Salle had planted with so much ceremony on the bank 
of his river to mark his great discovery. So Tonty had the 
royal arms and the inscription, "Louis the Great Reigns," 
painted on a tree; put a letter for La Salle in another near- 
by tree; left a second letter with the chief of the Quinipissas 
once so hostile but now quite friendly and turned back 
up the river. Vague rumors among the Indians that La 
Salle's ships had been on the Gulf Coast and then sailed 
away again, troubled him. He wondered if La Salle had 
gone "to France or the Islands, or if he is looking for the 
river. God grant that he succeed!" 



To find the Mississippi overland and by it open communi- 
cation with the Illinois was now a necessity. La Salle gave 
himself no time to rest but began at once making ready to 
set off again. The loss of the Belle left him and many an- 
other destitute even of clothes. Joutel, whose chest had 
been one of the few saved from the Aimable y flung it open 
and generously distributed its contents: to Monsieur de La 
Salle a great elk-skin belt, somewhat worn, of which to 
make shoes, and a brand-new cloth suit, which fitted ex- 
actly, since they two were of the same size; to the Abbe 
Jean, linen, a sheet to serve as mosquito bar, and JouteFs 
last pair of shoes from France; and to the Sieur du Moran- 
get, linen. La Salle commandeered some of the trading 
goods of the brothers Duhaut: hatchets and such things, 
and even some lengths of cloth which he handed out to 
different people so that they might make shirts for them- 
selves. He also took possession of the effects of several 
who had died and dispensed them in the same way. 

He was leaving out of his party this time, as unsuited to 
the hard journey, the younger of his two nephews, the one 
he called "little Colin"; Barbier, the Canadian, because 
of his lameness ; aHcTthe elder Duhaut. Among those whom 
he chose to go with him were Nika, his trusted Shawnee; 
his brother the Abbe Jean Cavelier; their nephew Moran- 
get; Dominique Duhaut, the younger of the merchant 
brothers; a certain buccaneer from San Domingo whom 



La Salle is said to have liked, a man called variously 
Hiens the German or English Jem or James; and Father 
Anastasius Douay whose maiden adventure this would be 
unless one except that brief encounter with a buffalo bull 
near the fort in the winter past. 

The travel-packs were made up: to every man two 
pounds of powder, stored preciously in sack within sack, 
the outermost being of tarred canvas; three pounds of shot, 
one of lead, five of meal; hatchets; the usual knives and 
awls and beads for Indians. La Salle gave his last orders. 
With Joutel he left a letter for De Cussy in case relief came 
from him as it might if the Belle had fled to the Islands as 
La Salle believed. If buffaloes continued scarce near the 
fort Barbier had better go to the River of Canes to hunt and 
to bring back bark to patch the leaking roof. A farewell 
mass was said in the passageway which still served them as 
chapel, but, by La Salle's express orders, the cannon were 
not fired as, barely a month after returning from his first 
expedition, he led his second out of the fort and away. 

They held a northeast course over the prairies. To La 
Salle, marching on in front, silent and solitary, this journey 
was a last necessity, as he had said in the proces-verbal he 
had drawn up just before leaving the fort; but to Father 
Anastasius, a novice in New World travel and, by curious 
irony, the only one who would record this particular expe- 
dition in detail it was a glorious adventure. In his robe 
of St. Francis and his sandals, he trudged along the buffalo 
paths, exulting in the beautiful country through which they 
were passing, as long ago the Sulpitian Galinee had de- 
lighted in canoes and fishing up the foaming St. Lawrence 
and as Father Anastasius 9 brother Recollets, in squeezing 
their sacramental wine in the translucent shade of the 
Griffin's white sails. On the "delightful fields and 


A, little river where Joutel first landed; B, arm of the same, making an 
islet of point where the first settlement was made; C, an unknown river; 
D, Riviere aux Bceufs on the bank of which the second settlement (P) 
was built; E, Aux Cannes; F, La Sablonniere; G, 'Hiens; H, Lalier; I, La 
Maligne; K, D'Eure; L, Aux Canots; M, an unnamed river; N, first river 
of the Cenis; 0, another river of Cenis. 


prairies" the grass was "higher than wheat" in France; 
the rivers were "skirted by some of the finest trees in the 
world, set as regularly as though they had been planted by 
man"; droves of buffaloes thundered past, of which "the 
smallest herds seemed to us to contain two or three hun- 
dred"; and savages a-horseback galloped over the plains, 
all to the priest's roseate vision "booted and spurred 
and seated on saddles." 

They came to river after river, naming each as they 
crossed it: the Robec, which somehow recalled to them 
that tinted river of La Salle's Rouen with dyers' cloths flap- 
ping in air above it bright as banners on saints' days; 
River Hiens, because Hiens the buccaneer got stuck in the 
mud in trying to ford it. At some of these rivers they 
made rafts to get across and Father Anastasius had to 
take his breviary from his sleeve and tuck it into his cowl 
to keep it dry. Some rivers they rudely bridged. They 
would choose two trees exactly opposite on the two banks, 
somebody would swim across with an ax on his back, and 
the two trees would be cut so as to fall into the river and 
mingle their topmost branches. 

After some days La Salle, silent as usual, altered their 
course from northeast to east and so held it thereafter. 
They met many Indians and were entertained with many 
successive ceremonies novel and charming to Father 
Anastasius. One tribe most strangely fell to weeping at 
sight of the French. "It is their custom when they see 
any one come from afar, because it reminds them of their 
deceased relatives, whom they suppose on a long jour- 
ney." The River of the Weepers the travelers crossed in 
the gentle weepers' pirogues. 

They had many minor adventures. Once on the march 
Nika the Shawnee was bitten by a rattlesnake and pierc- 


ingly cried, "I am dead," but scarifying and orvietan, that 
antidote of an earlier day, saved him. Once, at the river 
they named "la Riviere des Malheurs" La Salle and part 
of his troop, attempting to cross' on a raft, were swept 
downstream and cut ofi from the rest of the party during 
all of an anxious night and day. Here Father Anastasius 
and the others on the bank suffered hunger as well as 
anxiety, but Providence let two eagles fall from a cedar tree 
to feed them. Once they spent two days in getting through 
a canebrake so thick that La Salle walking ahead had to 
wield an ax in each hand to slash out a path for them. 
Somewhere along the way Dominique Duhaut and several 
other young men tired of the journey a fact omitted from 
Father Anastasius* little epic and La Salle gave them 
permission to turn back. 

At the villages of the Cenis La Salle met a reception 
which was no less than a triumph. He tarried here some 
days, camping three leagues distant because he did not 
trust his men not to run after the women. The Cenis had 
very fine cabins, forty or fifty feet tall, as Father Anastasius 
saw them, shaped like beehives and stored with many 
possessions of intense interest to the French: dollars, silver 
spoons, lace, a bull from Rome exempting the Spanish 
of Mexico from fasting during summer. The Cenis had 
horses which they would exchange for an ax apiece, or, if 
Father Anastasius would have consented, for his priestly 
cowl. Asked by signs where all these riches came from, 
the resourceful Cenis took a coal, declares the Abbe Jean, 
"and depicted a Spaniard, houses, steeples, and showed 
us the part of heaven under which New Mexico would lie." 
Moreover, visiting ambassadors from the Comanche nation 
westward could, to the priests' delight, make the sign of 
the cross, kneel as in prayer, and even sketch the picture 


of a great lady weeping because her son was on a cross. 
Father Anastasius believed the Cenis were dazzled by La 
Sailers oration on the victories of Louis the Sun-King and 
agreeably impressed with his own expounding "of the 
truth of God." 

La Salle certainly did not share Father Anastasius' rosy 
illusions but somehow by signs, by drawings, by hoarding 
every scrap of the Cenis language he was able to capture 
in writing he did manage to gather that six days 9 journey 
west of the Cenis, beyond the land of the Conianches, lay 
the Spaniards, and eastward lay his river. The Cenis drew 
for him on a bit of bark a map of their country and that 
of their neighbors' "and of the River Colbert, or Missis- 
sippi, with which they are acquainted." It is likely enough 
that hope visited him once more here, that all he had at- 
tempted seemed again almost in reach of his hand, and 
that when he took up his eastward journey it was with some 
confidence. His river was only a little farther on; he had 
horses now, all loaded down with grain and melons. And 
if he needed dreams of future accomplishment to cheer 
him, he had but to reflect on the silver spoons and Spanish 
lace he had seen among the Cenis. 

Back at Fort St. Louis they waited as before. In a way, 
they were better oil with La Salle gone. Though he was 
not a man to speak freely of his griefs, neither was he one 
to dissemble easily, and the weight of his many misfor- 
tunes had borne heavily on the hearts of them all. Under 
Joutel things were far more cheerful. La Salle's schedule 
of rationing was followed only when supplies ran low. 
When fresh meat was plentiful, then Joutel ordered that 
eating should be plentiful, too. He encouraged merry- 
making at evening when work was over singing and danc- 
ing or whatever else they liked. He planned little shooting 


matches, taking good care that the bullets should be re- 
trieved, and giving prizes for marksmanship a sip of 
brandy to the men and some little trinket to the women. 

One day a voice hallooing from the river heralded a 
pirogue bringing home six survivors of the Belle she had 
wrecked, as Joutel had guessed, Inside the bay. All the 
people she had carried, but these six, had been drowned, 
and of her cargo they had salvaged only some of La Salle's 
papers and two suits, a scarlet and a blue, gold-laced, and 
other odds and ends, damply huddled now in the bottom of 
the pirogue; and some sailcloth and iron buried in the 
sand at the scene of the wreck. The arrival created a 
pleasant stir. 

The tale of the Belle's adventures no doubt lent excite- 
ment to many an evening gathering, but certainly the news 
wore thin in time and they had to fall back on milder 
interests: the return of the buffaloes after Joutel had burned 
off the heat-parched grass and new grass had sprouted; 
the building of a new chapel thatched with reeds, its altar 
decorated with such images, and vessels as the priests 
possessed; a cellar to keep the meat in now that the weather 
had got so hot; plans for a palisade for which each pirogue 
that went out must bring back a log; an expedition to fetch 
the Belle's sailcloth buried on the beach; blooms on Jou- 
tePs cotton plants; the melons and pumpkins in his garden, 
the beets in Father Membre's, and their losing fight against 
rats and rabbits and even an alligator slithering up the 
river-bank; a flock of young chickens hatched out at last; 
young pigs and more young pigs. To wean four baby pigs 
it was thought necessary that Barbier and his companions 
should take them along in the pirogues when they went to 
buccan meat up-river, and so accustomed were they to 
making heroic effort for minute result the only detail 


worthy of comment when they returned was that they had 
let one of the pigs get away. Now and again hunters met 
Indians and had to defend themselves against their arrows. 
Once Joutel let a troop of braves upon the plain hear the 
voice of the cannon just to impress them with wholesome 
fear. And the Indians continued to let the fort alone. 

Barbier, coming back from two weeks' hunting on the 
River of Canes, asked JouteFs permission to marry one of 
the girls who had been in his party. Though the fort com- 
mander was not sure what La Salle would think, he con- 
sented under persuasion of the priests and the fact that the 
affair had already gone beyond denial; and a wedding 
actually took place in the new thatched chapel. 

But discontent stirred among the people. There were 
mosquitoes, so that, save when a north wind blew, sleep was 
hard to come by. The heat made hunting and all labor 
difficult. It was reported to Joutel that Father Maximus 
had written down in his journal certain criticisms of La 
Salle. The journal was burned. But the murmurs con- 
tinued. Some said they did not believe La Salle would 
ever come back, and Joutel heard that Duhaut was covertly 
offering to lead them out of their difficulties. Joutel 
warned him to hold his tongue and himself reassured the 
colonists. Still believing in the efficacy of cheer, he had 
the grass cleared away in a great square before the houses 
and bade the people gather there at evening to sing and 

One evening as they were dancing and singing a man 
came in the dark to the opposite bank of the river and 
stopped. It was La Salle, hurried on before his com- 
panions by old impetuous habit. He saw the shadowy fort 
standing unharmed where he had left it; heard the gay 
sounds pulsing through the summer night, the shuffle and 


beat of feet dancing on bare trodden earth and the sound 
of singing men's voices and the treble of women's and 
children's mingling in an old familiar tune of France. 
Did he hesitate a moment? Did he let the song finish be- 
fore he called out? 

He had brought no good news; again he had failed to 
reach his river. Just beyond the Cenis where things had 
seemed to be going rather well, he had met every sort of 
misfortune. Four of his men had deserted to the Indians, 
and he and Moranget both had fallen ill of fever. When, 
after months, they had been able to travel again, the little 
hoard of powder in the triple sacks had almost run out and 
there had been nothing to do but turn back. So here he 
was, weary and spent and lonely, too, of course and 
there they were singing and dancing beyond the little river. 

He had never shared In such a frolic. Once, long ago, 
he had seen girls dancing like that on a ship's deck, and 
had taken their part against a scolding friar. And once, 
immediately afterwards, in Quebec, he had briefly believed 
that a woman loved him. He had been young, then. Now 
he was almost forty-three, and more solitary than most 
men. True, he had always had the knack of making men 
believe in him, of raising their hopes by his own fervor. 
But then, oftener than not, he had disappointed them after- 
ward and their liking for him had cooled. Most of them 
had wanted money and he had never got it for them. And 
now those people singing and dancing beyond the river 
they were going to be woefully disappointed in him. 

He shouted. The singing stopped. 

"Who goes there?" came back the voice of Joutel. 

"France!" cried La Salle and then, searching for some- 
thing, anything, to make them a little glad of his coming, 
"I have some horses!" 


Joutel crossed in a pirogue to ferry him over to the fort. 
Almost the first question La Salle asked was whether 
Dominique Duhaut and the other young men to whom 
several months back he had given permission to return 
had arrived. Joutel had had no news of them: they had 
probably met death along the way, either by hunger or at 
the hands of the savages. Joutel for his part seems to have 
asked no questions. "Before he told us anything, I under- 
stood that he could not have been to the Illinois, and conse- 
quently that nothing had been accomplished.'* 

Next morning Joutel went over the river to see the 
vaunted horses. There were five and they were well loaded 
with corn and beans and seeds of pumpkins and water- 
melons. But, Joutel noted sadly, the men camping near 
numbered eight instead of the twenty that had followed La 
Salle out of the fort in the spring. Of Dominique Duhaut 
and the rest who had tried to get back to the fort and were 
probably dead, Joutel had already heard. Now he learned 
that four men had deserted beyond the Cenis, and that dur- 
ing the return journey one of La Salle's two servants, 
crossing a river they called the Maligne on a raft, had been 
dragged under by an alligator. 

La Salle, having returned only to recruit his forces and 
ammunition, would have liked to set off again immedi- 
ately. But first it seemed wiser to wait until the cruel heat 
had spent itself. And then, as soon as fall days came, a 
hernia from which he had suffered in boyhood returned 
and forced him to postpone going yet a little longer. Mean- 
time he resumed his place as commander and all the affairs 
of the post were brought to him for settlement. Should the 
boar which had wounded Father Maximus be allowed to 
live or condemned to die? Had Joutel been right to re- 
fuse to let a marquis of old France demean himself by 


marrying the girl they called Paris? If the child to be born 
of the Barbier union should be a boy would the title of 
nobility which the king by custom conferred on the first 
male child of a colony come to him as the Barbiers con- 
tended or would it go to the Widow Talon's youngest the 
boy to whom La Salle had stood god-father aboard the 
Joly and who was now more than two years old? The 
Barbier-Talon controversy, Joutel says, "served us as 
opera" while it lasted. But then Madame Barbier mis- 
carried and the little drama abruptly broke off. Whispers 
of Father Maximus* treasonable journal, and of Duhaut's 
insubordination inevitably reached La Salle's ears though 
not by way of Joutel, who thought such things should not 
be kept alive by talk. La Salle was angry at Joutel for 
keeping things from him, at Duhaut of course, but most, it 
seems, at Father Maximus. For some time he could not 
bring himself to eat at the priests' table* Did he also, as 
legend would afterward hint, absent himself nowadays 
from the sacraments? 

Always, along with the shadow-show of human wills, 
moved the actualities of daily life: a man gathering herbs 
very near the fort was killed by Indians ; the long-lost pig 
wandered back across the prairie, now one golden sea of 
autumn bloom; one of the horses was bitten in the jaw by 
a rattlesnake but with careful treatment lived; La Salle 
thought the cellar Joutel had begun digging to keep meat 
in was much too small "he had only great ideas," com- 
mented Joutel and set them digging on wider boundaries; 
of some of the logs slow-gathered for a palisade La Salle 
had a new magazine built. He grieved a good deal for 
JouteFs cotton plants which after blooming had been killed 
in a norther at the very least he had hoped for candle 
wicks from those plants. However, by now he can hardly 


have expected anything to prosper in this changeling colony 
dropped in his lap here by sheer mischance far from 
the river where he had meant to set it. The Abbe Jean 
says they watched for relief from France all that autumn, 
but none came. 

At last the stir of impending departure once more ran 
through the log houses. Again cobbling and packing and 
stitching: shirts of sheets., suits of sailcloth. Again La 
Salle levied for the common good on the private trading 
wares of Duhaut although Duhaut, since he had learned 
of the loss of his brother Dominique was hardly in more 
friendly spirit toward the Sieur de La Salle and his jour- 
neys. Again Joutel opened his chest and gave away his 
possessions: a jerkin and two coarse sheets to La Salle for 
shirts; shirts and drawers to Moranget. Joutel was going 
along this time ; and so he was making up a travel pack of 
his own shirts, handkerchiefs, cravats, some beads and 
knives, sea biscuit which he had hoarded for more than a 
year. They all must carry powder and shot and meal and 
knives and hatchets. La Salle packed up what little of his 
had been saved from the wreck of the Belle, his papers 
and the two suits, the scarlet one and the blue one with 
heavy gold lace three fingers broad. And the Abbe Jean 
his brother packed his various habits and his silver church 

The difficulty this time was that nobody wanted to be 
left behind so sick with weariness were they all of this 
barren colony. La Salle had need of the old gift of "fine 
speeches" which he had always been able to summon at 
will to get his way. He called his people together and 
"portrayed to them," says the Abbe Jean, "the hardships 
and dangers to be encountered, the impossibility of sub- 
sisting if they all went together on so long a march with 


no resource but hunting. He succeeded so well that a par 
determined to keep the fort/ 9 

They now numbered In all only thirty-seven or eight 
Twenty or twenty-one including children and the sevei 
women and girls made up the party who should wait a 
the fort, with Barbier to command them in place of Joutel 
Seventeen would go with La Salle. He delayed the de- 
parture so they might all spend the Christmas season to- 
gether. There was a Christmas midnight mass in the 
thatched chapel: incense and candle-light, glitter of chalice 
and bright embroideries on priests' vestments, men's shoul- 
ders bowing awkwardly in stiff new suits of weathered sail- 
cloth. They even stayed for Twelfth Night. And every- 
body tried to be as merry as possible, to the hour of mid- 
night when they lifted their cups filled with water as 
though they held the finest Spanish wine, and cried all 
together the old blithe toast: "The king drinks! The king 

After the Feagt^of Kings the travelers said good-by to 
Fort St. Louis. Father Membre, who had shared La 
Salle's fortunes from the sailing of the Griffin and who was 
of those who were staying behind declared the separation 
affected him more than any other he had ever experienced. 
The horses had to swim the river, of course, so Barbier and 
some others of the fort party took the travelers' baggage in 
pirogues along the river to the place where they were in the 
habit of drying the meat for the fort. 

There they camped and made their final arrangements. 
The plan was for the Abbe Jean, once the Mississippi 
should be reached, to go forward by the Illinois and Can- 
ada to France, while La Salle should return to the fort. 
The brothers' separation, with the best of luck, must be 
several months away but La Salle took the precaution 


perhaps suggested by the Abbe Jean, a canny man of 
writing out, before leaving, a letter to Tonty asking him to 
furnish the Abbe Jean and four companions with what- 
ever should be necessary to defray their expenses to 
France and also to repay the Abbe Jean in beaver the sum 
of 2,652 livres lent to La Salle in France before their 
embarkation. The abbe, thus protected in case anything 
should happen to La Salle on the journey, stored the letter 
carefully in his violet leather pouch with the dye earth 
and the pearls which he meant to show the Paris gem- 
merchants, or perhaps In a pocket of those breeches which 
legend -would one day declare as heavy as a sack of wheat. 
Packs were adjusted to backs of horses and men; Barbier 
pointed the emptied canoes back toward the fort; and the 
last good-bys were spoken, La Salle admonishing Barbier 
yet one more time to keep always on his guard and not to 
forget to plant the corn and beans in the spring. 



ONCE more La Salle was on his way toward his river. The 
journey, in spite of the five pack-horses, was toilsome. He 
had to lead his troops across broad marshes knee-deep in 
water and slashing reeds. It rained a great deal. All the 
rivers rose and all the ravines became rivers. At places 
which he had easily forded in the autumn or even crossed 
dryshod, he had now to swim the horses and, to get his 
people and the baggage over, contrive bridges or rafts and 
at last, under the eyes of admiring savage visitors, a canoe 
of buffalo skins cut into squares and sewed together and 
mounted on a frame. The canoe, reminiscent of Illinois 
streams, proved to be a great help, because after being 
used, it could be dismounted and carried along on the 

Often they came to woods so thick that a passage had 
literally to be hacked through. Buffalo paths, wherever 
they found any going their way, were less difficult, and 
brought them out, besides, at the likeliest fording places. 
But the buffalo tracks were not pleasance paths. After 
the frequent downpours they became veritable brooks. 
Dry, they were bitter hard to feet shod only in rough-sewn 
buskins. The travelers had no dressed skin until, after 
a time, they traded for some with chance-met Indians 
and had at first to fashion their shoes of the hide of new- 
killed buffaloes, which heated their feet painfully and 

272 <. 


dried so hard that the wretched boots had to be softened 
In water before they could be drawn off at night. 

The bivouacs, like the going, were laborious. The 
country was overrun with wandering Indians who, however 
ready by day to smoke the white men's tobacco, accept their 
knives and awls and beads, and try to understand and 
answer their endless inquiries concerning a certain distant 
river, were a potential danger, necessitating elaborate pre- 
cautions nightly. La Salle dared not let his people camp 
except within entrenchments of felled trees and shrubs. 
Often he thought best to clear away, besides, a reach of 
the tawny last summer's grass which stood deep and tall 
wherever the prairie had not been burned over and through 
which dark, naked bodies might easily come creeping un- 
seen. In bottoms flooded or in danger of flood by rain in 
the night, he had scaffolds built to lift the baggage out of 
danger of a wetting. "When it rained at night, the sleeping- 
skins had to be spread over their goods, though that left 
the men shivering. Places that would make good camping 
ground for men offered the horses no grazing. Those 
horses were a care as well as a comfort, always having to 
be unloaded at rivers and even at ravines, through La 
Salle's fear of laming them; always needing their clumsy 
packs adjusted a matter on which everybody had and 
expressed a different opinion, mentions Joutel the realist, 
but "Monsieur de La Salle was not of a disposition to fol- 
low any but his own." 

It is small wonder they differed. Surely never were 
gathered together a more ill-assorted seventeen persons: 

There was Moranget, son of La Salle's younger sister, 
a rash and overbearing gallant who appears to have profited 
not at all as Beaujeu had hinted he would do well to do 


by the lesson of his first experience in the New World, 
fully as ready now to insult the doctor who had then cured 
him of his wounds as he had heen on landing to draw on 
himself and his rash companions the Indians 9 deadly 

There was Liotot, the doctor, of whom almost nothing is 
known hut that he hated young Moranget and had, some 
say, put his money into this regrettable enterprise. 

Hiere was Duhaut of Rouen who with his younger 
brother Dominique had also been led to invest largely in 
this venture of their fellow-townsman, only to be at last, 
-as Duhaut saw it, bitterly betrayed. Duhaut, a man con- 
cerned with property and profits, might, and probably did, 
calculate over and over, as he walked along, the precise 
amount of his losses. Half the cargo of, it seems, the 
Aimable had been his. For those laces and lengths of fine 
cloth of India which at San Domingo La Salle had per- 
suaded him and his brother to convert into cash for La 
Salle's use, La Salle had reimbursed the Duhauts by sale 
of some of his own effects before ever they had put to sea 
again. But what of the bales of trade cloth, the knives 
and hatchets which La Salle had commandeered for the 
previous prairie journey and for this one? The very 
shirts on the backs around him belonged rightfully to 
Duhaut. And how had La Salle repaid him? Dominique's 
life had been wasted on the last journey as indeed, thanks 
to that insufferable sprig Moranget, Duhaut's own might 
have been on the one before that. 

There was Hiens, or Jem or James, the buccaneer whom 
La Salle had hired at San Domingo and seems to have 
liked, who was, some said, English, some said German. 
He spoke both languages and "good Latin" and knew some- 
thing of mathematics. He was a man of vague but in- 


dubitably violent past whose belted pistols could surely 
have told a pretty tale of blood and booty. 

There was Indian Nika who, by the romantically minded 
has often been identified with that guide who long ago had 
led La Salle from the end of Lake Ontario southward to 
look for the Beautiful River. That nameless guide cer- 
tainly had been, like Nika, a Shawnee; but the supposition 
that they were one and the same person is more picturesque 
than credible. The two hunters who had fed La Salle and 
his men during the building of the Griffin and Fort Creve- 
coeur had been Wolf Indians of New England, not Shaw- 
nees. The eighteen braves listed by Tonty as sharing in La 
Salle's voyage down the Mississippi had all been Abenakis, 
Mohicans, Sokokis, and the name of Nika does not appear 
among them. But Nika had certainly followed La Salle to 
France and back again and now was in at least the fourth 
year of devoted service to him, ready to lay down his life 
for his master as he daily proved, turning aside from the 
line of march to hunt at risk of his own scalp for the 
buffaloes and deer and turkeys which the white men had 
to have to live. 

There was Joutel, a mild-mannered, just man, reading 
his book of Hours by the campfire, writing truthfully in 
his journal: Here I traded for a deerskin dressed as white 
as snow to make us shoes; here the country was black and 
charred where the Indians had burned it over; here on 
February fifteenth the prairie began to grow as green as a 
French wheatfield in April; here we met some flathead 
Indians like those Monsieur de La Salle had seen in his 
journey down the Mississippi. Joutel held as little con-> 
verse as possible with Hiens, Lutheran and a foreigner, 
and with Duhaut whom he had caught at Fort St. Louis 
plotting against La Salle; and consorted by preference with 


the Caveliers La Salle and his brother and their two 
nephews as loyal to the family in America as had been 
before him his father the gardener to La Salle's Uncle 
Henri in far Rouen. But a man's thoughts are his own, and 
Joutel, tramping where La Salle led, often had sad mis- 
givings: Here we are after two years no better off than we 
were in the beginning, worse indeed., for only a handful of 
us are left alive, our stores are almost spent, and nothing 
has been accomplished yet. 

There were the two priests. The Abbe Jean Cavelier 
was fifty years old, a man with no taste for hardship and 
no pious will to martyrdom, wearing a wretched short cas- 
sock lately fashioned for him at Fort St. Louis out of some 
unpriestly brown cloth, breeches weighted with whatever 
gold he had no doubt he considered it painfully little 
and a-swing at his belt, his pouch of purple leather stuffed 
with dye-earths and pearls and the letter of credit to Tonty. 
To such a man this whole affair was impossible fantasy 
and so he would present it when he should come to set it 
down: Here "they brought us thirty handsome maidens" 
and "we bought at this place thirty horses which mounted 
us all and carried our baggage" although actually the 
only horse they were able to buy along the way, Joutel de- 
clares, was a big red one with a sore back fit for nothing but 
to be nursed and led. Father Anastasius Douay in his 
robe of St. Francis, becoming day by day greasier and 
more riddled with holes, was viewing for the third time this 
prairie landscape. His record of the journey would be 
little more than a weary naming of the rivers they had to 
cross: First Cane River, Second Cane River, the Sablon- 
niere, the Hiens, the River of Misfortune. 

There were the two little boys, Pierre Talon going up to 
the Cenis country to learn to be an interpreter, and the boy 


called "little Colin" by La Salle, "my brother's godson/' 
by the Abbe Jean, and "the young Cavelier," by JouteL 
The Cavelier boy, according to Father Anastasius, was 
fourteen, but Pierre Talon, who would himself celebrate 
his eleventh birthday upon this journey was afterward to 
remember him as "a young boy of ten or twelve." What- 
ever Colin's age, the two boys together were so small, Jou- 
tel says, that, at a river where the Indians were helping to 
get the baggage across in extemporized baskets of skin 
hung on sketchy frames of boughs, the pair of them were 
tied up in a single skin to be pushed through the water by 
an Indian swimmer. 

There were Bartholomew, "a young boy of Paris," rated 
by Joutel as no better for purpose of defense than the Talon 
boy; the youth De Marie, reputed to be of noble birth; and 
another called Meusnier. There were La Salle's servant 
Saget and Duhaut's L'Archeveque, a youth of seventeen 
or so who had been to school and could read and write a 
little, and Tessier, who had been one of the two masters 
of the Belle. 

There they all were marching along together, little boys 
set to keep pace with the lithe Indian hunter; the bucca- 
neer, pistols at belt, marching alongside the frocked 
Franciscan with his breviary in his sleeve; a merchant, a 
doctor, and a swaggering gallant, some of them hating each 
other, all without common denominator of body or spirit, 
with nothing to bind them together but the silent will inside 
the tall figure marching in the lead. They obeyed him, 
but of course they did not understand him, a proud, shy, 
utterly lonely man, inwardly lashed by furies of self- 
reproach for every mistake and failure of these two lamen- 
table years or three if you count from France r-inwardly 
swearing there should be this time no turning back, as his 


great body crashed out for the rest of them a path toward 
his river. 

The country was increasingly fair to see, all laced with 
little streams of clear good water and twisting river courses 
deeply wooded with walnuts and chestnuts, all spread with 
prairies, just greening over where they had been burned 
or deep in dry grasses to mirror the wind, with groves set 
here and there as though by plan. On February 23 the 
travelers had the ill-luck to lose one of their only two 
axes, and the moon that night wore a great red circle of ill 
promise. The next day they were held up at the edge of a 
broad marsh by heavy rains. From, then through the early 
days of March, what with marshes and continual rains, they 
made slight progress. But during this time a band of 
friendly Indians maintained with them a helpful liaison, 
traveling and camping near them. 

On March 13, two months after leaving Fort St. Louis, 
they crossed that great rushing river by whose torrent La 
Salle and half his people had so nearly come to grief on the 
previous journey the River of Misfortune, Father Anas- 
tasius called it. Beyond this river the hunting grew poor, 
because they were now, in a manner of speaking, on a main 
thoroughfare to the populous Cenis country. Having fore- 
seen the scarcity of game, La Salle returning last summer 
from the Cenis with more beans and corn than his horses 
could well carry, had cached his surplus a little way off his 
present line of march. So now, about a day's journey be- 
yond the so-called River of Misfortune, he halted in camp 
and despatched a party to fetch it: Duhaut and his boy 
L'Archeveque; Hiens the buccaneer; the surgeon Liotot; 
Tessier of the Belle; and La Salle's man Saget Some of 
the friendly Indians went along to help them find the way 
and guide them safely back. 


Toward evening La Salle's man Saget guided by Indian 
companions returned to report. They had found the cache 
easily enough hut the grain inside was all rotted by damp. 
Meantime, however, the incomparable Nika in this country 
of no hunting had killed two buffaloes. What were La 
Salle's orders should the party stay where it was to buc- 
can the meat? And if so, would he send some of the horses 
to bring it to camp? It was too late to get any one off that 
night, but the next morning La Salle sent Moranget and 
the two youths, De Marie and Meusnier, back with Saget 
to the place of Nika's kill. 

The scouting party, meantime, had industriously made 
camp, butchered the two buffaloes, cut the meat into long 
thin strips and spread them on a wooden grid for smoke- 
drying. According to hunting custom they had laid aside 
the marrow bones and other parts not suitable to preserve 
and, when they had finished their task, set about spitting 
and roasting these left-overs for what they considered a 
well-earned meal. Moranget arrived. He was irritated 
to find things so far along without his having had a chance 
to give orders. He began to bluster, announced that he 
would take charge now of the meat and that none should be 
eaten except as he gave permission. He even took from 
the tired and hungry men the pieces which they were on the 
point of eating. 

Liotot and Duhaut felt old grudges rise in their throats. 
Drawing apart with Hiens and L'Archeveque and Tessier 
they reviewed their griefs, ancient and new, against the in- 
sufferable Moranget, Duhaut openly declaring that he for 
one had taken his last insult. That evening, over the nig- 
gardly portions of meat which Moranget served out, there 
were spoken aloud hints of going to the woods to cut head- 


breakers a phrase darkly suggestive of the vengeance 
savages dealt out to their victims, 

After supper Moranget, unsuspecting, stood his turn at 
watch and lay down to sleep. So also did Nika and Saget 
Apparently, De Marie and Meusnier were asleep, too, and 
only the five conspirators awake. They drew together and 
held whispered council but the minutes of hesitation 
were brief. Liotot the surgeon seized a hatchet and fell 
upon the sleeping Moranget, and then, turning swiftly, 
dealt alike with Nika and La Salle's man Saget. Saget 
and Nika died without stirring, but Moranget sat up still 
alive. Some one must "finish him." The conspirators 
compelled De Marie wakened and utterly terrified by 
the whirlwind of ferocity to do it. Not until the thing 
was over, it seems, did the assassins face the question of 
how they were to meet La Salle. It would be easy enough 
to kill him If they should hurry back to camp before he 
had time to suspect anything but there was disagreement. 
Some say Hiens opposed it. At the moment perhaps none 
of them had any stomach for further blood. At any rate 
they did not set oil promptly. A heavy rain came. The 
river by which they were in camp and which they had 
forded in coming here rose so that they had to make a raft 
before they could get across. 

Back in camp La Salle became uneasy. He had ordered 
the prompt return of one of the horses with some of the 
fresh meat and began to expect it a few hours after Moran- 
get left. But the day ended with no word. A second day 
wore by. La Salle was restless and troubled with fears 
for Moranget had he got lost or fallen into the hands 
of savages, the rash young man? La Salle talked of go- 
Ing to look for him. Having no idea where Nika had 
killed his buffaloes, he went over to the camp of the 


friendly Indians to obtain a guide and bargained with 
one of those who had returned with Saget. The guide 
agreed to go with him for the price of a hatchet, and La 
Salle told Joutel he wanted him to go along, too. But by 
that time it was night, and they would have to wait for 

They sat talking about the camp-fire all that evening 
there were left in camp now, besides the boys Colin Cave- 
lier and Pierre Talon and young Bartholomew who were 
all three probably asleep, only La Salle and Joutel and 
the two priests. The talk turned to speculations about 
what could be keeping Moranget. La Salle showed him- 
self profoundly distressed it almost seemed to Joutel 
as though he had some presentiment* He asked Joutel if 
he had heard of any mischief brewing among the men. 
Joutel said he had heard nothing except the usual com- 
plaints about being found fault with so much and that, 
anyway, if there were any plot afoot, it would hardly be 
allowed to reach the ears of Joutel whose fidelity to La 
Salle was so well known. 

The next morning it was March 19, 1687, the day 
before Pierre Talon's eleventh birthday La Salle 
changed his mind about having Joutel go with him. The 
camp could not be left with only priests and little boys to 
guard it. He asked Father Anastasius to go in JouteFs 
stead. He borrowed JoutePs gun, the best one in camp, 
and his pistol as well, and, cautioning Joutel to keep a 
close watch and to send up smoke signals now and then 
from a near-by hill to guide him and Father Anastasius 
home in case they should stray, he set off alone with the 
priest and the Indian guide. 

As they walked along La Salle talked to Father Anasta- 
sius in curious, reminiscent vein. Twenty years it was 


now since lie had come to America a young man of twenty- 
three and begun his journeyings up and down the wilder- 
ness in search of a certain river. It had been a hard life 
an( J perhaps it struck him for the first time dangerous. 
Perhaps Father Anastasius shuddered a little at those dan- 
gers he heard recounted one by one and, crossing himself, 
gratefully mentioned God's protecting mercy. Though 
perhaps it was La Salle himself who did as the pious 
priest would remember it: "He seemed to be peculiarly 
penetrated with a sense of God's benefits to him." 

But then La Salle broke off talk perhaps the memories 
were coming now too fast for words: A boy with the sound 
of bells at his ears, reading of heroes and martyrs in the 
old Jesuit Relations. A young seignor in a rude new hut 
on half-cleared land listening to Indians talk in their 
strange tongue of a far and unknown river flowing west, 
leading where did it lead? A ragged traveler moving 
along familiar paths in a pioneer village, greeted hilari- 
ously: so it's you back from China! But the Indians' 
river was not a myth. It was real. It must lead some- 
where. Who would be the man to find and follow it to its 
end? Bells of Quebec ringing out Joliet's return from the 
West. Joliet had found the great river. But he had only 
half explored it. Paris. Fort Frontenac. Paris again. 
A frontier mission where La Salle in a scarlet, gold-laced 
coat and a swarthy youth with an iron hand knelt in thank- 
ful prayer while their little white-sailed ship floated in 
harbor below them* The river was then almost in reach of 
his hand. And then the Griffin lost. Deserters. Creditors. 
Indian war. Looking for Tonty. But why recall all that? 
Recall instead an April morning and standing with warm 
Gulf air on one's bared forehead and crying aloud the 
words that made the great river the king's and his. It 


was his. Nobody could ever take It from him. He had 
come to the month of his river. 

Father Anastasius roused La Salle from, his preoccupa- 
tion. Beyond a reach of tawny last year's grasses dry and 
whispering in the wind, hung a curtain of woods in new 
leaf. They must be coming to a river. La Salle looked 
up and saw two eagles circling in air. He guessed that 
the place of Nika's kill was close at hand. He lifted his 
gun and fired it to give notice of his coming and without 
reloading went forward watching out for some of his 
people. His feet trod a bit of rag. It looked like Saget's 
neck-cloth and the stain seemed to be blood. Just then 
from the woods along the river, Duhaut's man, young 
L'Archeveque, came walking out to meet them. 

44 Where is my nephew?" La Salle called. 

6 'Back yonder," said Duhaut's man. 

His tone was somehow insolent. He kept on his hat. 
Puzzled and angry, La Salle stepped quickly toward him. 
Out of the deep last summer's grass, that grass as tall as 
wheat in France, rustling crisply to his long impetuous 
stride, a gun cracked it was Duhaut's and La Salle 
stumbled and fell. 


A TALL white body, stripped naked and kicked aside into 
deep grass. "There you are, you big Pasha! There you 

Two fine coats, a scarlet and a blue with lace three 
fingers broad, to set rogues and murderers to quarreling 
and killing one another. It was the big buccaneer after 
Duhaut and Liotot were dead who wore the coats, strut- 
ting and swaggering before some priests and wide-eyed 
little boys. 

A casket of a dead man's papers. Better burn those, the 
brother decreed, and they were burned. 

A letter of credit he'd hardly burn that, the canny 
priest! carried in a purple wallet during month upon 
month of weary travel and delivered at last to a man with 
an iron hand. Four companions La Salle's letter said his 
brother would have with him, and as it happened they were 
at the last just four: Little Colin and Father Anastasius and 
Joutel and Tessier. But would Tonty honor a dead man's 
wish? Better take no chances. The Abbe Jean glanced 
admonishingly around at his companions. We left my 
brother [the lie would be upon his lips many times before 
he was done with it] in a beautiful country and in the 
best of health. 

A drift of false legends multiplying curiously back in 
that "beautiful country" where derelict men with feathered 
heads and white skins tattooed in savage patterns strayed, 



whispering. He was a bad man and deserved to die. 
These he branded with the fleur-de-lys, those he hanged. 
He drove the sick up from their beds to toil. He snatched 
out the eyes of one yet living. For two years he had not 
attended mass. The priest his brother wore breeches as 
heavy as any sack of wheat; and that violet leather pouch 
do you think it really had dye-earths in it? No. It 
was weighted with poor men's gold. 

Whispers creeping to Spanish ears from those strange 
fairs the Western Indians held among themselves, tales of 
white men who had come over the sea in "wooden houses/' 
And, little by little, bits of plunder straying under Spanish 
eyes: a Franciscan's cape worn by a big young naked 
brave; two leaves of a ship's log written in French; and, 
all wrapped up in a fine neckcloth trimmed with lace, the 
colored drawing of a ship on a piece of parchment and 
what is here? writing in red ocher: 

"Monsieur I do not know what sort of people you are 
we are French we are among savages we would like 
much to be among Christians. * * . Jean L'Archeveque 
of Bayonne" 

Inside a little-known bay two ships* hulls, painted with 
the fleur-de-lys, driven into the sand, waiting for a Spanish 
captain to come and find them. Up a little river from that 
bay, a bit of a French garden with "just a little corn" and 
endive and asparagus growing in it; wandering pigs; a 
huddle of log and clay plaster houses gutted of human life 
by savage fury. On the ground outside the houses a litter 
of broken chests; battered mission ornaments; torn and 
trampled books, their costly bindings rent apart, rain- 
soaked, turned curiously this way and that at last by the 
toe of a Spaniard's boot; broken cutlasses, several brass 


cannon; three skeletons, one with the bits of a woman's 
dress clinging to it. White children growing up with sav- 
ages. The Spaniards could have them by paying a horse 
for each, but the girl should bring more, for she was grown 

In the keeping of savages near the mouth of the 
Mississippi, lying unclaimed year after year, a letter ad- 
dressed in Tonty's handwriting "To Monsieur do La Salle, 
Governor General of Louisiana." 

The Mississippi, after La Salle's failure to find it by sea, 
slipped back into mystery. That he had once followed it 
down to its mouth was now doubted by many. That it had 
any sensible mouth at all was questioned by one very emi- 
nent scientist at Paris who held a theory that the great 
river "lost itself on land in lagoons." Geographers after 
catechizing Minet and Joutel and other veterans still 
traced the long-disputed course with uncertain hand. A 
new book by Father Louis Hennepin declared it was not 
La Salle who had first of all voyaged down the Great River 
to the Gulf but Father Louis himself two years earlier in 
that canoe wherein he had set out from Fort Crevecoeur. 
For a long time only the Abbe Bernou, who still called 
America his diocese, and a few other like-minded men 
seemed to set any store at all by La Salle's great discovery. 

Fourteen years after the Joly, the Aimable and the Belle 
had failed in their search, and just as the English were 
fitting out a fleet bound for the Gulf and the Spanish were 
hewing logs to build a fort in the bay of the Panzacolas, 
another French fleet made ready to sail away on the inter- 
rupted quest. Captain Beaujeu, hearing the news, was as 
much exasperated as though the expedition were being got 
up on purpose to flout him. He foresaw for the misguided 


searchers the same fate La Salle's followers had met; and, 
in letters to his friends referred derisively to the leader of 
the expedition no mere civilian like La Salle but a naval 
officer named Iberville with laurels a-plenty won by heroic 
conduct on the decks of the king's ships as "the hero of 
the Mississippi." 

The ships sailed from Brest in October. When they had 
crossed the Atlantic they put in, like the Joly, the Aimable 
and the Belle, at San Domingo where the fruits and heat 
and women were as bad as ever and where it was still the 
fashion to picture the mysterious Gulf as darkest hell. So 
they, too, took on board, along with victuals and buccaneer 
recruits, disease and death and terror. At the bay called 
on old maps Espiritu Santo or St. Esprit but more lately 
named for the Mobila Indians dwelling above it, the Gulf 
let them feel its dreaded violence and held them up for 
weary days. 

Their Spanish charts marked, at twenty-five or thirty 
leagues west of this bay, a river mouth called the Palisades, 
because of rocks which, the Spaniards said, barred the 
entrance. Was that forbidding river the Mississippi? The 
ships crept westward, groping among white sand islands 
along the flat shore, stopping now and then to send boats off 
to reconnoiter. Indians on the beach spoke of a great water 
a little farther on called Malbancia. Did they mean the 
Mississippi? The fleet came to anchor off what they named 
Ship Island and longboats provisioned for twenty days and 
towing Canadian bark canoes set off to investigate. 

Two days of terrible weather, the maze of treacherous 
islands, and what appeared to be a rocky coast without 
harbor threatened disaster to the open boats. But when, 
in desperation, they steered straight at that seeming cliff 
of rock they saw it divide and draw apart into separated 


headlands the Spaniards 9 Palisades of course, age-hard- 
ened, mud-cemented monuments of river driftwood, 
through which came pouring a whitish current. They were 
expecting that muddy current and when they tasted it, they 
found it fresh. They turned the boats into a narrow pass 
hetween low mudbanks with the Gulf breaking outside 
them. At night they made a clearing in thick reeds on a 
flat bank and slept; and next day it was Mardi Gras 
pushed on up the river. Was it the Mississippi? How 
could they know? 

Reed-grown sand-flats. Wide green marshes. Herons. 
Pelicans. Sea-gulls wheeling and faintly crying. Impene- 
trable canebrakes walling the river, mile upon mile. Wide- 
rooted cypresses rising out of endless swamps. A strip of 
higher bank with twisted live-oaks trailing rags of cloudy 
moss. Was it the Mississippi or another of those un- 
counted rivers which as a veteran priest of the party, 
one Father Anastasius Douay, could well testify lay one 
beyond the other around this coast? Three days upstream 
at noon, the commander took the altitude of the sun "with a 
quadrant which I made on purpose." For finding their 
longitude they had the old compass and inaccurate tables. 
Their maps were erroneous, their Relations, all misleading. 
They depended, as New World explorers always had, on 
such scraps of information as they could glean from In- 
dians speaking by signs and in an unknown tongue. But, 
though the white men smoked the calumet interminably, 
gave gifts, ate sagamite, the Indians owned to no "fork" 
such as the Relations described in the Mississippi. Not 
even the spoken names of the Indian tribes could be made 
to jibe with those on the printed page. 

Driftwood. Alligators. Diminishing supplies. Un- 
certainty. And then the white men saw, upon the shoulders 


of a grave and lordly chief, a villainous old coat of blue 
Poitou serge and a red cravat which had once been a flag., 
and heard mention of one whom the Indians called Cut 
Arm or Iron Hand who long ago had traveled this way, 
and given to a tribe which the new explorers had already 
visited lower down, a message in writing for "a man who 
should come up the river from the sea." 

The boats turned back downstream. Near the coast the 
commander's younger brother, a boy of eighteen, per- 
suaded an Indian chief to show him curious treasures: a 
book, "The Imitation of Christ" with a Canadian name on 
the fly-leaf; some glass bottles, gift of the Iron Hand; and 
true enough, a letter a thing of paper which a puff of 
Gulf wind might have blown away or a sudden shower 
reduced to a pulp at any time these many years. The 
Canadian youth bought the unclaimed letter for an ax, 
broke the seal and read. It was Tonty's letter. It told 
news of Canada of a date when he who now read had been 
precisely six years old; but, more, it told and so patly 
that it might almost have been written on purpose to tell 
him that he was standing on the bank of La Salle's river. 



NOTE. The greater number of documents relating to La Salle 
manuscript narratives of his companions in adventure, letters 
of himself and others, court papers, financial and legal transac- 
tions, and the like were collected by the French archivist Pierre 
Margry and printed in his Decouvertes et Etablissements des 
Frangais dans FOuest et dans le Sud de PAmerique Septentrion- 
ale, Vols. I-IIL Paris. 1879-1888. Some, usually edited and 
translated, appear in various historical collections. Material 
in Spanish archives dealing with La Salle's Texas colony has 
also been gathered up and much of it is now available in printed 
collections. There are some unpublished papers in the archives 
of Canada and of Paris. The latter among which are many 
letters of the vivacious Abbe Bernou about La Salle are listed 
in the Calendar of Documents in Paris Relating to the Mississippi 
Valley. Nancy Miller Surrey. Carnegie Institution. Washing- 
ton. 1926. Published books of the period dealing directly with 
La Salle Hennepin's three, Le Clercq's Etablissement de La 
Foi y MichePs abridgement of JouteFs copious journal about the 
Texas expedition, the spurious Relation of Tonty, have all been 
re-issued for modern readers, as indicated below. 

Beaujeu, Le Gallois de. Letters. Margry. Vols. II, III, IV. 

Bernou, the Abbe. Letters. Margry II and III. Others, unpub- 
lished. Bibliotheque Nationale. Paris. 

Boucher, Pierre. Canada in the XVII Century, from Boucher's 
True and Genuine Description of New France 9 1664. Pub- 
lished Paris. 1664. Translated by Montizambert. Mon- 
treal. 1883. 

Cavelier, the Abbe Jean. (1) Journal. A fragment covering 
period July 1684-January 1685. Margry II, 501-509. 



(2) Relation. Part of rough draft of report to Seignelay. 
Shea's Cramoisy Series No. 5. Also in Early Voyages Up 
and Down the Mississippi. John Gilmary Shea. Albany. 
1861. Reprinted in Journeys of La Salle. Edited by Isaac 
Joslin Cox. New York. 1905. 

Champlain, Samuel de. Works of Samuel de Champlain. Edited 
by H. P. Biggar. 6 vols. Toronto. 1922-1929. 

De Leon, Alonso. (1) Historia de Nuevo Leon, Vol. 25, Docu- 
mentos Ineditos. Mexico. 1909. (2) Itinerary. Trans- 
lated by Elizabeth H. West. TexasJ3jate_ Historical Associa- 
tion Quarterly. Vol. VHIJNo. 3, p. 200. 1905. Also in 
Spanish Exploration in the Southwest Edited by Herbert 
E. Bolton. New York. 1930. 

D'Esmanville. Journal. Margry II, 510-517. 

Dollier de Casson. Histoire du Montreal, 1640-1672. Lit. and 
Hist. Soc. of Quebec. Hist. Documents. Series 3. Part L 
Montreal. 1871. Re-issued in translation: A History of 
Montreal. Translated by Ralph Flenley. London. 1928. 

Douay, Father Anastasius. Account of La Salle's overland jour- 
neys in Texas. (See Le Clercq.) 

Freytas, Father Nicolas de. The Expedition of Don Diego 
Dionisio de Penalosa. Edited by John Gilmary Shea. New 
York. 1882. 

Galinee, Rene Brehant de. Recit de ce qui s 9 est passee de plus 
remarkable dans le voyage de MM. Dollier et Galinee. Nar- 
rative of La Salle's first expedition. Margry I, 112. Also 
in Memoires de la Societe Historique de Montreal. Edited 
by the Abbe Verreau. Sixieme Livraison. Montreal. 1875. 
Also issued with parallel French and English texts. Trans- 
lator, J. H. Coyne. Ontario Historical Society. Vol. IV. 
Toronto. 1903. Reprinted in Early Narratives of the North- 
v west, 1634-1699. Edited by Louise Phelps Kellogg. New 
York. 1917. 

Gravier, Jacques. Letter about a journey on the Mississippi. 
Shea's Early Voy. Up and Down Miss. 

Hennepin, Louis. (1) Description de La Louisiane. Paris. 
1683. A Description of Louisiana. Translated from the edi- 
tion of 1683, by John Gilmary Shea. New York. 1880. 
Excerpts printed in Discovery and Exploration of the Mis- 


sissippi Valley. John Gilmary Shea. New York. 1855. 
And in B. F. French's Historical Collections of Louisiana. 
New York. 1853. (2) Nouvelle Decouverte, Utrecht, 1697. 
(3) Nouveau Voyage. Utrecht. 1698. A New Discovery of 
a Vast Country in America. London. 1698. Re-issued and 
edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites. 2 vols. Chicago. 1903. 

Iberville, Pierre Le Moyne. Journal and letters. Margry IV. 
French's Hist. Col. La. and Fla. New Series. 

Joutel, Henri. Journal of La Salle's last voyage. The ample 
and ingenuous original is printed in full except for cer- 
tain lost sections by Margry, Vol. Ill, p. 89. Michel's 
abridgement under title Journal Historique du Dernier Voy- 
age que Feu M. de La Salle Fit dans le Golfe de Mexique, 
etc., was published in Paris, 1713, and translated in 1714. 
A translation of Michel's edition appears in French's Hist, i 
Col. La. Vol. I, reprinted in Cox's Journeys of La Salle. ' 
A reprint of London edition, edited by Melville^^der^on^ 
Caxton Club. Chicago. 1896. Another edited by Henry 
Reed Stiles. Albany. 1906. 

Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents. Edited by Reuben Gold 
Thwaites. Cleveland. 1896-1901. 

La Hontan, [Louis Armand de Lorn d'Arce] Baron de. New 
Voyages to North America by the Baron La Hontan. Re- 
printed from the English edition of 1703. Reuben Gold 
Thwaites. Chicago. 1905. 

La Salle, Nicolas de. Relation. Margry I, 545. Reprinted with 
parallel translation by M. B. Ajiderson. Caxton Club. 
Chicago. 1898. 

La Salle, Rene Robert Cavelier de. Relation. Margry I, 435- 
544. (Margry believed and manuscript letters of the Abbe 
Bernou seem to bear him out that his relation was com- 
piled by the Abbe Bernou from letters of La Salle, many 
passages of which it repeats exactly. But the subject is con- 
troversial Thwaites and Shea question the authenticity of 
the Relation.} Reprinted with parallel translation. M. B. 
Anderson. Caxton Club. Chicago. 1901. Letters, scat- 
tered through Margry. One, of September 1683, in Cana- 
dian Archives, 1905. Memorials to court, various grants 
from the king, his will: Margry. Also, variously, scattered 


through. French's Hist. Col. La.; Falconer's Discovery of the 
Mississippi, New York, 1844; O'Callaghan's Documents Re- 
lating to the Colonial History of New York; Shea's Early 
Voyages; Cox's Journeys of La Salle; Raymond Thomassy's 
Geologie Pratique de la Louisiane; and other places. Let- 
ters about La Salle hy Duchesneau, Talon, Frontenac and 
others in Margry and New York Colonial Documents. A 
record of correspondence and financial dealing with his 
brother, Abbe Jean Cavelier, and minor items of interest, 
Jugements et Deliberations du Conseil Souverain de la 
Nouvelle France et Quebec. Vols. I and II. Quebec. 1893. 
Fragmentary items about the Cavelier family, publications 
of Antiquities Commission. Dep. Seine-Inferieure. XII. 
1901-1902. Letters from General of the Jesuit Order to 
La Salle and other bits about his school years gleaned from 
Jesuit registers, foot-notes and text of Les Jesuites et la 
Nouvelle France au XVIIe Siecle y Rochemonteix. Vol. 
III. Paris. 1895-1896. 

Lescarbot, Marc. Histoire de la Nouvelle France. Paris. 1609. 
Reprinted with Les Muses de la Nouvelle France. 3 vols. 
Paris.' 1866. 

Le Clercq, Chretien. Etablissement de La Foi dans la Nouvelle 
France., 1691, republished as First Establishment of the Faith 
in New France. Translated and edited by John Gilmary 
Shea. New York. 1880. 2 vols. Vol. II, beginning at page 
89, contains the story of La Salle's career as told by Le 
Clercq, Membre, and Douay. These narratives also appear 
in Shea's Disc, and Expl. of the Miss., French's Hist. Col. La. y 
and Cox's Journeys of La Salle. 

Minet. Journal and one letter. Margry II, 591-604. 

Manzanet, Don Damian. Letter about Spanish search for La 
Salle's colony. Translation by Lilia M. Casis. Tex. State 
Hist. Ass'n Quarterly. Vol. II, p. 281. 1899. Also in 
Bolton's Span. Exrjlor. in the S. W. 

Marie dfe 1'Incarnation. Letters! Edited by the Abbe Richan- 
deau. Paris. 1876. 2 vols. 

Membre, Father Zenobius. Narrative of La Salle's earlier career. 
(See Le Clercq.) Letter. Margry II, 206. 

New Mexico, Historical Documents Relating to. Collected by 


A. F. and F. Bandelier. Edited by Charles W. Hackett. 
Spanish texts and English translations. Carnegie Institu- 
tion. Washington, D. C. 2 vols. Vol. II contains testimony 
of Indians concerning La Salle's movements in Texas, repro- 
ductions and translations of a fragment of the log of the 
Belle and the parchment bearing L'Archeveque's letter to 
the Spanish. 

Perrot, Nicolas. Memoire $ur les Moeurs 9 Coutumes, et Religion 
des Sauvages de VAmerique Septentrionale. Edited by 
R. P. J. Tailhan. Paris and Leipzig. 1864. Translated in 
Indian Tribes of the Upper Mississippi and the Great Lakes 
Region. Emma H. Blair. Cleveland. 1911-1912. 2 vols. 

Sevigne, Madame de. Letters. Edited by Richard Aldington. 2 
vols. New York. 1927. 

Thevenot, Melchizedech. Recueil de Voyages. Paris. 1681. 
Contains first published account of Marquette's and Joliet's 

Tonty, Henri de. (1) Dernieres Decouvertes dans I'Amerique 
Septentrionale de M. de La Salle. Paris. 1697. English 
translation. 1698. Reprinted in New York Historical So- 
ciety Collections. Series I, Vol. II, pp. 217-341. 1814. 
Authorship disavowed by Tonty. (2) Memoir e, 1693. 
Relations et Memoires Inedits. Pierre Margry. Paris. 
1867. Also in Falconer's Disc, of the Miss. Also in III. 
Hist. Col. Vol. I, pp. 128-164. Also in Cox's Journeys of 
La Salle. French's Hist. Col. La. And in Kellogg's Early 
Nar. of the N. W. (3) Relation, written at Quebec, 1684. 
Margry I, 571. Reprinted and translated by M. B. Ander- 
son. Caxton Club. Chicago. 1898. (4) Letters and mis- 
cellaneous papers scattered through Margry, Falconer, etc. 
One in Harrisse's Notes Pour Servir, p. 172. One, to Fron- 
tenac, July 23, 1682, containing a beautiful straightforward 
account of the descent to the mouth of the Mississippi, un- 
published, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. Copy, Library of 


Abbott, John S. C. The Adventures of the Chevalier de La Salle. 
New York. 1898. 


Bacqueville de La Potherie. Histoire de TAmerique Septen- 

trionale. Paris. 1722. Appears in part, translated, in 

Blair's Indian Tribes. 
Bancroft, Hubert Howe. North Mexican States and Texas. Vol. 

II of History of the Pacific States of North America. New 

York. 1889. 

Bandelier, A. F. The Gilded Man. New York. 1893. 
Bartram, William. The Travels of William Bartram. Edited by 

Mark Van Doren. New York. 1928. 
Bolton, Herbert E. The Spanish Borderlands. New Haven. 

Bolton, Herbert E. and Marshall, T. M. The Colonization of 

North America. New York. 1920. 
Bossu, Nicolas. Nouveaux Voyages dans VAmerique Septen- 

trionale. Amsterdam. 1777. Travels through that part of 

North America formerly called Louisiana. Translated by 

J. R. Foster. London. 1771. 
Boucher, Pierre. Canada in the XVII Century, from Boucher's 

A True and Genuine Description of New France. Paris. 

1664. Translated by Montizambert. Montreal. 1883. 
Brower, Jacob V. Memoirs of Exploration in the Basin of the 

Mississippi. 1 vols. St. Paul. 1898-1903. The Mississippi 

River and Its Source. Minneapolis. 1893. 
Campbell, Henry C. Wisconsin in Three Centuries. 3 vols. 

New York. 1906. 
Campbell, Thomas J. Pioneer Laymen of America. Vol. II. 

New York. 1916. 
Chambers, Henry E. Mississippi Valley Beginnings. New York 

and London. 1922. 
Chapais, Thomas. Jean Talon. Quebec. 1904. The Great 

Intendant. Toronto. 1914. 
Charlevoix, Pierre Frangois Xavier de. (1) History and General 

Description of New France. Edited by John Gilmary Shea. 

6 vols. New York. 1900. (2) Journal of a Voyage to 

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